Back to Basics: 5 Formal Vegetable Cuts.

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Today I wanted to share with you 5 of the different ways that I was taught to cut vegetables back when I was training to be a chef. While it won’t change the taste of your veggies, it will change the look of your dish and show your level of finesse as a cook or chef.

Here are the different cuts, how to achieve them and when you’d typically use them.

Cut: Julienne – Thin string or matchstick shape

How to do it: Slice the vegetable length way as thin as possible, then stack your slices and cut paper thin strips length way. If you are starting with a round vegetable like a carrot, cut one side of it off so you have a flatter surface to rest it on.

When to use it: Commonly used as a garnish or in sauces

Cut: Mirepoix – Chunky square cut

How to do it: Cut chunky square shape of vegetables about 1-1.5 cm.

When to use it: Used in sauce bases like stock, normally including carrots, onions, celery and leeks.

Cut: Brunoise – Little cubes of vegetables or fruit about 2-3 mm size

How to do it: Similar start as the julienne, but cut the string of vegetables about 2-3mm then dice them in 2-3 mm cubes.

When to use it: Mainly used to decorate dishes, in salad or added to sauces at the end for better aesthetics

Cut: Macedoine – A slightly bigger version of a brunoise about 6-8mm in size

How to do it: Same process as the brunoise but slightly bigger.

When to use it: Most commonly used in cold salads such as Macédoine de Légumes

Cut: Paysanne – Thinly sliced vegetables of around 1mm in thickness

How to do it: Cut your vegetable in 4, so you have triangular shape pieces and then thinly them. You should end up with thin triangle of vegetables.

When to use it: Mainly used in potage, broth or in casseroles where the cooking time is short.

 

Et, voilà! Try one of these cuts next time you’re making a stir fry, ratatouille or salad.

Watch the how to video below or visit my YouTube channel here for more.

Roasted pork fillet salad with a grilled pear and walnut dressing.

 

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I really enjoy pork fillets in springtime. They’re a nice change to the heavy roasts and slow cooks of winter, and the perfect complement to this crispy pancetta salad. The hero of the salad aside from good quality pancetta is the dressing, which combines freshly grilled pears and walnuts. It’s so good that you could almost eat it on it’s own!

This dish is the perfect Sunday lunch, reinvigorated for warmer months, and the best part is that any pork leftovers will be just as delicious to eat cold the next day, sliced and thrown into a salad or as cold sandwich meat with your favourite accoutrements.

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1 purple cauliflower
  • 1 bunch baby Dutch carrots
  • 1 oak leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 4 globe artichokes
  • 5 slices mild pancetta ( 2 mm thick)
  • 40 g walnut
  • 1 bunch chive
  • 1 packam pear
  • 1 pork fillet ( about 400g)

 

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Method :

 

  1. Set up a steamer on the stove and preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into little florets, peel the carrots and asparagus, wash the lettuce and take the leaves, stems and the fluff of the artichoke until only the heart remain, place the artichokes in lemon water straight away to prevent them from going black.
  3. Steam the vegetable separately or in different basket if you have a multi level steamer. Cook them until just tender, a good way to check is to use a small knife if it goes in easily, it’s ready.
  4. Preheat a shallow frying pan with a bit of olive oil, cut the meat in equal pieces, season it with salt and pepper and seal the pork all around then put in the oven for about 10-12 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, slice the pear (2-3 mm slices) and grill them on a grill pan for 1 minute on each side, then cut them into small dice and keep aside. Finely chop the chive, roughly crush the walnut and mix with the pears.
  6. Heat up a small frying pan on a high heat and cook the diced pancetta until crispy (no need to add any oil in the pan), transfer the pancetta in a bowl with some kitchen paper to soak up the excess fat, then mix with the rest of the dressing ingredients.
  7. Add white wine vinegar and olive oil to taste, season with salt and pepper. Mix the vegetables together and arrange them on serving board or a platter, place the pork pieces around the salad and drizzle the dressing over the top.

 

With this dish I recommend a Chateau “Ollieux Romanis” Blanc, available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au

 

 

Lamb Persillade with ratatouille

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Ratatouille, like many French dishes that are considered “classics” today, started life as humble peasant food, in this case a simple mix of abundant, in season spring/ summer vegetables. Today, opinions are divided as to how to cook the “perfect” ratatouille, but really, the most important part of this dish is the quality of the produce you are using to make it with.

 

My preference is always produce that has been grown locally and as free from chemicals as possible, with the exception of tomatoes which I don’t mind being canned, as long as the only thing in the can is the tomatoes themselves.

 

Purists will say that the original dish didn’t include eggplants, but I quite like the meaty quality they add to the dish so I’ve included them here. Good news is, if you’re not a fan, you can leave them out and still have a delicious dish on your hands.

 

I’ve paired my ratatouille with delicious lamb persillade, but it’s a truly versatile dish enough so that you can eat it hot, cold, as a side or as a meal on it’s own and it goes perfectly with fish too – so enjoy it your own way and bon appétit!

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Ingredients for the Ratatouille:

 

  • 2 eggplant (diced)
  • 3 zucchini (diced)
  • 1 red onions (sliced)
  • 2 red capsicum (diced)
  • 5 garlic cloves (grated)
  • 1 bunch thyme (chopped)
  • 2 tins crushed tomato
  • 4 fresh tomatoes (diced)
  • 400 ml vegetable stock

 

 

Method: Place a deep cooking pot on a high heat with a little bit of olive oil in it. Once heated turn the heat down to medium and ad the sliced onions, grated garlic and chopped thyme. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the onions have browned, stirring from time to time. Then add the diced capsicum and cook for about five minutes, until the capsicum softens a little. Add the diced zucchini and the diced eggplants and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomato and the vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 25 minutes on a low to medium heat. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat and adjust seasoning if necessary.

 

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Ingredients for the persillade:

 

  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 100 g coarse breadcrumbs

 

Method: Wash, dry and chop the parsley. Peel and grate the garlic then combine it with the parsley and the breadcrumbs. Lay down the lamb cutlets on a board and season well with salt and pepper. Dust the lamb in plain flour, dip it egg wash (egg , milk mix) and coat the cutlet with the persillade mix. Heat up a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil on a medium heat. Place the lamb cutlets in the pan (depending on how many cutlets you have, you may need to do more than one batch, as you don’t want overfill the pan). Cook on each side for about 3 minutes. You’ll see when they are ready to be turned, as the persillade will be golden and crunchy. Turn them and cook for a further 3 minutes. The cooking time may vary depending on how big the cutlets are. An easy way to know is if you slightly cut one of them, the meat should still be pink and juicy. Allow the cutlets to rest for a minute or so then serve with the ratatouille.

 

Wine Note: A fresh Rosé is perfect to compliment this dish in the warmer months. I recommend a “Chateaux Minuty” cote de Provence, Available from http://www.airoldifinewines.com.au .

Roasted chicken with spring vegetables and a Pinos Blanc Jus

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Spring Chicken | Le Fermier

In this day and age, when you can buy a roast chicken in every supermarket, why would anyone bother going to the effort of cooking a fresh chook at home? I mean, who has the time to cook at home when the supermarket option is so quick and healthy, right? And the fact that it’s been sitting under the heat lamps in the deli section on the bain marie since 4pm that day surely won’t mean it will be dry and tasteless by the time you get it home, right?

What if I told you, you could make a fresh, healthy and succulent roasted chicken at home without having to wait the 2 hours it normally takes a chicken to roast? Well, I’m telling you, you can!

The brilliance and simplicity of this cheat’s chicken dish is that instead of cooking the bird whole, you cut it into smaller pieces while it’s still raw and smaller pieces = shorter cooking time. We also seal the meat in a pan before it goes into the oven. This also shortens the cooking time and means you still get that golden crispy skin you get from oven roasting for a long time.

Speaking of skin, I know there are two very distinct camps when it comes to this. Whether you like to eat you’re chicken with or without skin, I recommend you leave it on for this cooking process and then do as you will once it’s on your plate.

The garnish for this dish is really any in-season vegetables that you love, which are simply roasted on the same tray as your chicken once it goes into the oven. I chose to use dutch carrots, artichoke hearts (très delicieux!), sweet potato and red onion.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 small size sweet potatoes
  • 2 bunches baby dutch carotts
  • 5 globe artichokes
  • 2 spanish onions
  • 5 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch thyme

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cut the chicken into smaller pieces (about 12 or so) with a sharp knife.
  3. Season your chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  4. Place a large frying pan on medium heat and place a small knob of coconut oil into the pan to melt.
  5. Place the chicken pieces into the pan in small lots so as not to overfill the pan and seal the chicken just until it becomes golden and crispy around the outside
  6. Set this first lot of chicken aside and repeat the above step until you’ve sealed all the chicken
  7. In the meantime, start prepping your veggies. The shape is really up to you. I choose to leave my carrots whole, dice my sweet potatoes, quarter my artichoke hearts and cut my onions in wedges. With the artichoke you’ll need to take off the leaves, the little bit of fluff inside and also the green part of the stems.
  8. Once you’ve sealed all the chicken pieces, arrange them in a roasting tray and arrange the spring vegetables around it. Crush the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and place into the tray whole. Take the thyme leaves off the sprig and sprinkle over the chicken and vegetables.
  9. Deglaze your pan with about 200 ml of Pinos blanc or even a Sauvignon blanc. By that I mean pour the wine into the pan and let it simmer on low heat for a minute to fuse all the delicious flavours together. Then, pour it over the chicken and put the tray in the oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  10. You’ll know your chicken is ready if the meat falls from the bone when pressed gently. Voilà! Your chicken is ready! I recommend a lovely glass of chilled Pinos Blanc to go with it.

Bon Appétit,

Le Fermier

What’s in season now … Spring

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The transition from Winter to Spring is one of my favourite times of the year. There’s a real buzz in the year as nature and people alike slowly come out of winter hibernation and prepare for a beautiful summer ahead. It also means a whole crop of new produce to play with in the kitchen, enhanced by lighter cooking styles perfectly suited to warmer months.

 

There are plenty of new vegetable varieties coming into season, a few Winter crops that will still be available into early Spring, and also a more diverse selection of fruits than during Winter.

 

Here’s a list of what to look out for at Farmer’s Markets this Spring:

  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Blood orange
  • pears

 

To celebrate the new season, I’ve prepared a special dish: Roasted chicken with  spring vegetables and a Pinos Blanc jus

Read the full recipe here and if you have any favourite Spring fruits or veggies you’d like to see a recipe for, leave me a comment below!

 

A bientot,

Le Fermier

 

 

 

What Produce Is in Season in Winter

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Which fruits and Vegetables are in season in Winter?

Well winter is upon us once again, so it’s now time for slow cook roasts, warming soups, and hearty stews.

I believe in buying what’s in season and what’s organic wherever possible. Buying seasonal produce is a great way to support your local farmers and farmer’s markets. In season, local fruit and vegetables are often more nutritious and tasty simply because there’s less chance they’ve been in cold storage for a long period of time which can affect these things.  Also, having grown up helping on my Uncle’s farm in France, I find there’s something truly soul-satisfying about eating something that’s fresh from the earth!

Winter vegetables are more varied than people think (check out the full list at the end of this post). My favourite winter crops for cooking are pumpkins, leeks and potatoes, which are perfect for soup making as well as classic roasting, cabbages, silverbeet, and fennel, which are beautiful braised, and your classic root vegetables like parsnips, turnips and carrots which are the perfect complements to any winter oven roast. Roasted carrot and pumpkin also make for a delicious winter salad when paired with feta, spinach or rocket leaves, some toasted pine nuts and lemon zest.

Let’s not forget the winter fruits available on farmers market stalls! Lemons are common year round, but are often at their best in the colder months. They are perfect to add zest to everything from meat dishes and desserts to something as simple a glass of water. Another member of the citrus family is orange and one of my favourite winter salads is fresh orange segments and shaved raw fennel with just a splash of apple cider vinegar and olive oil to dress.

Look out for seasonal, ripe fruits and veggies at your next local farmers market (or supermarket) and be sure to pick ones that are bright in colour, firm to touch and plump.

To see my favourite winter harvests brought to life, check out my Winter Harvest Videos on my You Tube Channel. The first one features a classic French winter dish using the humble potato.

Bon Appétit!