Grilled Cuttlefish, Eggplant with Salsa Piccante

In Australia, cuttlefish have mostly been used as bait or for aquaculture feed. Sure, you’ll see them occasionally on restaurant menus and at the fish market, but this cephalopod is seen mostly as a poor cousin to it’s famous relative, the squid or calamari.
Cuttlefish flesh is thicker than calamari, and coarser grained so it can take a little more cooking and is ideal braised, in a soup or a curry. It seems to work well with robust flavours so there’s no need to worry about overpowering it.

But, think of this all you calamari lovers, they put chemicals with the calamari to soften the flesh, and what are you eating!

Cuttlefish contain an ink sac and the ink contained within was used in early photography to attain the distinctive sepia tone. This ink is also a delicacy used to colour and flavour all manner of dishes from risotto to pasta.

In Venice, cuttlefish are cleaned and sliced and fried gently in a pot with chopped onion and parsley, chopped ripe tomato is then added as well as a teaspoon of cuttlefish ink. It is then simmered slowly for an hour or so, seasoned with salt and pepper and served with polenta.

Cuttlefish goes with

Extra virgin olive oil, butter, garlic, onions, chilli, soy and XO sauce, balsamic vinegar, fish sauce, ginger, shallots, spring onions, lime, lemon, tomato, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, asparagus, beans, fennel, olives, capers, parsley, basil, coriander, most lettuces and leaves, especially roquette, watercress and radicchio, mayonnaise.

Ingredients

500gr ripe tomatoes

juice of half a lemon

1 chilli chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

good handful chopped basil leaves

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium sized eggplant

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for frying

salt

250 gr cuttlefish, cleaned

 

Method

Peel and seed tomatoes and chop them roughly into 1cm pieces. Place in a bow, and add the lemon juice, chopped chilli, minced garlic clove and chopped basil leaves. Season, add extra virgin olive oil, stir well and allow to sit for 1 hour.

Meanwhile cut up the medium sized eggplant into 2cm cubes. Heat 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on a grill or pan and fry eggplant until they have browned and softened. Season with salt and allow to cool.

Cut cleaned cuttlefish into 4cm square tiles, heat 2tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on a skillet and fry the cuttlefish tiles on high heat until they become golden. Serve on the salsa with the eggplant scattered over.

 

Serves four.

RENT MY BRAIN…THE SOLUTION

TIS THE SEASON TO GET BAKING

Christmas has come about so quick in the Ramsay’s household, where has this year gone!

In this household attention now turns to the highly anticipated Christmas season, and the foodie marvels it has to offer.

Christmas does not have to be all about turkey, baked ham, Dry Aged standing beef roast, BBQ, and all the trimmings, with the festive period providing the perfect excuse for a good old baking session!

Ideal to offer as gifts (arranged and wrapped in festive cellophane, tied with ribbon), or to fill up some space on your Christmas tree, now that the kids are off school, let them help as well. Christmas biscuits in particular are quick simple, and therapeutic to make, and taste absolutely delicious too!

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So don the Christmas apron and let the smell of Christmas spices fill your house as you rustle up a number of indulgent and eye catching treats for family and friends to enjoy, the more sparkle the better!

Christmas Spice Biscuits

Ingredients

200 gr self raising flour

100 gr butter

100 gr caster sugar

1 tsp of  ground spice (use a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, or mixed spice, or try a combination)

1 egg

Method

Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the sugar and spice and mix through. Beat the egg in a small jug, and gradually add to the mixture until it comes together to form a dough.

Knead the dough gently until it is smooth, and then turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough so that it is 3-4mm thick, and use Christmas shaped cutters to create festive shaped biscuits.

Place the biscuits on a baking tray lined with baking paper, making sure that they are not too close together. If making tree decorations, make a small hole near the edge of each biscuit using a chopstick, or the end of a teaspoon. Ribbon can be threaded through the hole to hang the biscuits once they are cooked!

Place the biscuits in the oven, and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

When cooked, remove the biscuits from the oven and allow to cool for two minutes, before transferring them to a wire cooling rack. When cool, the biscuits are ready for decorating! I tend to use a thick icing (made from icing sugar and water), with edible sparkly bits sprinkled on top.

 

RENT MY BRAIN…THE SOLUTION

 

 

ALWAYS CONSIDER THIS FIRST IN COOKING…

WHEN IT COMES TO EATING HEALTHFULLY AND PREPARING NUTRITIOUS MEALS, THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT IS FLAVOUR. IF THE FOOD DOESN’T TASTE GOOD, WHY EAT IT?

Good cooking, be it healthy or not, is all about getting maximum flavour from the dishes we make. Because, let’s face it, the health benefits of certain foods alone are not always enough to keep us coming back for more. We want to enjoy our food, too.

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When you develop great flavours at every step in the process, you can change tasteless, colourless, “healthy” food into dishes that showcase colour, texture, and aroma. Making a dish flavourful and interesting can be as simple as introducing a new ingredient or cooking technique. Ruby red pomegranate seeds, deep purple eggplant, brilliant orange scallopini and pumpkins, vibrant greens, and a rainbow of chillies are just a few of the exciting foods that can add intense flavour and flair to everyday meals.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF FLAVOUR

Flavour is nothing if not subjective. What one person thinks is delicious another considers anything but, and what you perceive as much too salty or spicy may be “just right” to some one else.

Despite our tendency to keep flavour and nutrition separate, they are inextricably linked. Sweet foods like fruits and honey supply calories and energy. Savoury foods tend to be good sources of protein, vital for growth and development. Tart and sour foods are often rich in vitamins essential to good overall health.

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Flavour is composed of many elements, which makes it distinct in some ways from the related term, taste. Taste has to do with specific sensory experiences of food that occur primarily in the moth, like sweet, sour, salty, bitter, unami ( a Japanese word that means “deliciousness”), and possibly others, whereas flavour includes our total sensory experience: taste, smell, texture, appearance, and touch.

DEVELOPING FLAVOUR

While every cook is limited by a variety of factors, including the seasons, ingredients, and cost, it is in the act of cooking that you take control of flavour. With a few basic kitchen skills, you can turn ordinary or inexpensive ingredients into something fabulous.

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Cooking Technique

One of the greatest opportunities you have for influencing flavour is through the cooking technique you select. Heat alters the chemical structure of food, breaking down cell walls, releasing flavour compounds and nutrients, and making the food more tender. Dry heat cooking techniques let you reach temperatures let you reach temperatures higher than you can with moist heat methods, and these higher temperature allow foods to brown and develop a crust. Moist heat cooking methods are typically gentler, and because the foods do not brown, their flavours tend to be simpler and more pure. For example, consider the difference between grilled or roasted (dry heat) salmon and poached (moist heat).

Texture

A food’s texture affects how its flavour is perceived as well. A silky smooth bisque and a chunky chowder may have many of the same ingredients, but the pureed soup’s flavour may be subtler than the shower’s, where each ingredient remains distinct.

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Temperature

Even temperature can be used to add an unexpected element to a dish. Very hot and very cold foods tend to have less discernible flavours. Foods like ice-cream, cheese, and fruit have more developed flavours if they have been allowed to sit at room temperature for awhile. At the other end of the spectrum, piping hot foods and beverages can deaden the palate. An interesting contrast can be created in a meal when hot and cold foods are served together.

USING SEASONINGS AND FLAVOURINGS

The way you choose and use seasoning and flavouring ingredients determines the ultimate flavour of the dish. Some flavouring ingredients don’t require any special monitoring, toasted or freshly ground spices and chillies add rich smoky flavours without introducing sodium or fat, and fresh herbs and aromatics like garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and lime juice add flavour but not calories.. On the other hand, high sodium foods such as salt, capers, anchovies, and olives do call for strict measuring and proper handling. Sometimes you can rinse or soak salty foods to reduce their level of sodium. In addition, you can often find  low or reduced sodium versions of salty condiments like soy or tamarin sauce. salt itself should always be used properly and with care.

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RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

To prepare appetising and healthy meals at home, select high quality ingredients, consider your cooking method, and always put flavour first. Here’s to happy, healthy eating!

 

RENT MY BRAIN…THE SOLUTION

 

CELERY & FENNEL SALAD

THIS HAS TO ONE OF MY FAVOURITES

To cook vegetables (and I don’t mean vegetarian), you really have to up your creative game to get people interested. you have to learn a whole new set of techniques. It doesn’t mean that other people can’t learn it, but it is starting from the basics again. You know when you’re growing up and someone is teaching you how to cook, or you’re learning through a cookbook, they’re really teaching you how to cook meat, they’re not teaching you how to cook vegetables.

To be a Chef, or a person that just loves bloody good food, you have to be creative, try not to have boundaries, just have that creative mind and the knowledge for the five senses. 

Celery & Fennel Salad

12 grams pumpernickel (remove crusts and cut into small dice)

Vegetable oil for frying pumpernickel

140 grams celery (about 4 stalks), string removed, sliced 1cm thick

140 grams fennel sliced 1cm thick, parallel to the base

15 grams extra virgin olive oil

Lemon juice as needed

Celery leaves, as needed

Fennel fronds, as needed

Small block of King Island Blue Cheese, Frozen Hard

  • Heat 3 cm of oil in a very small pot to about 130. Slowly fry the pumpernickel cubes until darkened and crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels and reserve.
  • Option 1; If you have a vacuum sealer, combine the sliced celery and fennel in a bag with a couple pinches of Maldon salt and seal at maximum vacuum. When ready to serve, transfer from bag to a bowl.
  • Option 2; Combine the sliced celery, sliced fennel, olive oil, and a couple of pinches of Maldon salt in a bowl.
  • Toss with lemon juice to taste and add more salt as needed.
  • To serve, divide the salad onto 4 chilled plates. Distribute the croutons and garnish with the celery and fennel leaves. Immediately before serving, remove the blue cheese from the freezer and shave a few paper thin slices over each salad, using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler.

If you happen to have access to a vacuum sealer compressing the celery and fennel gives a great texture and translucent appearance. If not, you can definitely skip it. Or if you have time, cut the vegetables and then freeze them the day before you want to serve, then thaw them an hour ahead of time, pat dry with paper towels, and then put them in the fridge to firm back again. In the freezer, ice crystals will rupture the cell walls, producing an effect somewhat similar to compression.

If you want to add one more component, a few pickled grapes would be really good I think. You could also replace or supplement the pumpernickel with toasted (or lightly candied) walnuts or pecans.

 

RENT MY BRAIN…THE SOLUTION

WHAT DO YOU BUY THE PERSON IN YOUR LIFE THAT HAS EVERYTHING

As the festive season draws ever closer, thousands of shoppers will frequent online and offline outlets in search of the ideal gifts for their loved ones.

Unfortunately, although you may find it easy to shop for many of your friends and family members, at Ramsay’s on the run we recognise how there will always undoubtedly be a certain special someone for whom it seems impossible to buy! Regardless of whether this loved one is a spouse, relative or close friend, many of us face the annual gift-giving dilemma of finding presents which will suit the person in your life who seemingly already has everything they could ever want or need!

Fortunately, at Ramsay’s on the run,  we have devised a solution to this dreaded festive dilemma; private staff support! By giving the gift of time in the form of temporary, part-time or full-time private staff assistance, you can reward the person in your life who seemingly has everything with a thoughtful present from which they will benefit throughout the year.

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Consequently, if you have begun your Christmas shopping and would like to reward a family member or friend with a gift like no other, then listed below are our helpful hints on how to match them with their ideal avenue of private staff support:

Private chefs: If you have someone in your life who seemingly has everything but never has time to cook then why not give them the gift of a private chef?

At Ramsay’s on the run we can match your friend and relatives with extensively qualified and diversely experienced culinary professionals who can provide the following services:

 

  • Plan and prepare an array of delicious menus in accordance with your friend or family member’s particular culinary tastes or dietary requirements
  • Provide the person  in your life with one-to-one cooking lessons and demonstrations, introduce them to a broad spectrum of international cuisine.
  • Provide exquisite catering services for formal dining events or social gatherings.

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In this manner, investing a private chef service will enable your gift recipient to enjoy delicious and nutritious meals on a daily basis with minimal hassle. Moreover, giving the gift of a private chef could even lead to the person in your life discovering a new passion for cooking; thereby equipping them with culinary skills that will benefit them far beyond the festive season! One of the best things is that we can do it anywhere!

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Who is Ramsay’s on the Run?

Rod Ramsay;

Has been living his dream of fine cuisine and travel. His chef background establishes him as one of the foremost chefs in New Zealand and Australia, having managed and run award winning restaurants, hotel kitchens and event venues. Rod, along with wife Belinda, managed world renowned Sign of the Takahe, one of Christchurch’s most popular boutique event venues, in the Port Hills of Christchurch. This restaurant won the Beef and Lamb award 5 years running. Also Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses, Sheraton Perth

A highlight of Rod’s career was to be invited to act as private chef to Prince Philip during an Australasian visit, Rod travelled with the Prince and prepared fine cuisine for his small entourage.

Belinda Ramsay;

has extensive knowledge in customer service in the art of making the customer feel that they are the only person that is on the planet. Both Rod and Belinda have travelled the world, and are very knowledgeable in travel and food. Belinda is the stylist from a passion that she has nurtured for many years. Belinda is always looking for new inspiration in magazines, cookery books, shops and anything else that catches her attention.

Please contact us by email:chef.rod.ramsay@gmail.com for more information and prices.

RENT MY BRAIN…THE SOLUTION

IT ALL STARTS WITH INGREDIENT SELECTION

From healthful seasonings to sustainably sourced proteins, it all starts with ingredient selection.

FISH SAUCE

The first time you open a bottle of fish sauce, you may be struck by its pungent, fishy odour. However, once you’ve made a few Southeast Asian recipes you’ll appreciate it for its depth of umami flavour. Just think of this Vietnamese Hue chicken salad calls for only 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, but the richness it imparts would sorely missed if omitted.

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A bowl of Vietnamese pho without fish sauce is like Italian tomato sauce without basil!. Southeast Asian fish sauce is usually made from anchovies that are fermented with salt and water in wooden barrels and then slowly pressed to extract the fishy liquid. To ensure you’re buying a quality product, choose a brand that doesn’t list additives like sugar, hydrolysed protein, or preservatives. A good fish sauce should be deep golden amber but still transparent, and the odour should be robust, but not offensive. The words “first press” on the label is also an indicator of quality.

 

PISTOU

Pistou is a cold sauce from Provence, made from fresh garlic, basil, and olive oil. It was originally adapted from its Italian first cousin, pesto, but with one key difference-pistou does not contain pine nuts. As in Italy, some regions of France include cheese such as Gruyere, pecorino, or even Parmesan in their pistou.Since pistou is often stirred into a hot liquid, any cheese to be included should not melt into long strands; therefore, hard cheeses are always preferred.

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You can find many uses for pistou in your cooking. Try it as a spread on sandwiches, or use it as a rub for meat or fish. The best known use of pistou is key ingredient in the Provencal soupe au pistou, but remember the pistou is stirred into the dish just before serving.

 

SUSTAINABLE FISH

As a food lover and home cook, you probably hear the word “sustainable” over and over again in reference to our shared passion. But what does sustainable mean when it comes to fish and seafood? A sustainable fish species is one with a healthy and well managed population. The method of fishery is also important because some commercial fishing gear can have a negative effect on the ecosystem; specifically, the sea floor.

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Fish species low on the food chain such as mussels and catfish require fewer resources and are generally healthier than larger, predatory species like swordfish or tuna, which often rate high in mercury. Fast growing fish like mahi-mahi and barramundi are usually a better choice than slow growers like grouper or Chilean sea bass.

 

TURMERIC

A mainstay of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines, turmeric has long been considered one of the worlds healthiest ingredients. Derived from the Curcuma long plant, turmeric is a rhizome related to ginger. It has been used to fight a variety of conditions in Eastern medicine for ages, and has a growing reputation in Australia for its health benefits, specifically, the anti inflammatory properties attributed to its main component, curcumin.

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Culinarily speaking, you can find turmeric in the spice aisle of your supermarket, or in its pure root form in the produce section of some grocery or speciality stores. It is one of the main ingredients in curry powder, turmeric has a deep yellow-orange hue and a warm, peppery, slightly bitter flavour that lends itself well to rice, potatoes. Turmeric does have an intense flavour, so when using it in your cooking, start off with a small amount and then taste and add more as needed to achieve the right balance.

RENT MY BRAIN…THESOLUTION

 

 

“FIORETTO little flowers in Italian”

After flirting with the marketplace and its consumers for a couple of years, sweet sprouting cauliflower may have found its time to shine as that special new vegetable everyone wants to get their hands on.

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Sweet sprouting Cauliflower, known as Fioretto, here in Australia, was first developed by a Japanese seed company, and has been likened to an edible bride’s bouquet, with long, thin stemmed and tiny white cream florets. practical as well as a pretty face, the brassica is said to be sweeter, more versatile and easier to prepare and cook than its everyday counterpart, as well as not having the sometimes wasteful thick stem.
Designed to appeal to all consumers, with an emphasis on children and affluent foodies, this hybrid has an answer for everything: it aims to be both tasty and visually attractive, suiting modern lifestyles and premium meal occasions. It has a sweeter than usual cauliflower taste.
Fioretto means “little flower” in Italian and many like to compare the cauliflower to the tiny white gypsophila flowers used in bouquets. Attractively built, the vegetable has white tops supported by long shining stems. With a softer texture than the cauliflower, this attractive brassica has enough firmness to stay upright, with long stems that grow from a single central stem.

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You can eat sweet sprouting cauliflower raw in salads or as crudités, blanched, mashed, pickled (a Japanese trend), stir-fried, steamed, roasted or barbequed, and it’s got a quick cooking time, especially as it suits al dente cooking. When cooked the stems turn to a brighter shade of green and it will store, raw and chilled, for up to a week.

Jamie & Jen these were bloody beautiful, we deep fried them with the beer batter from the squash flowers and served them our chilli jam and pesto aioli, I thought that they would go with some hot smoked salmon that I prepared yesterday, I was not wrong, very tasty.

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I do recommend that you get down to The Prickly Pineapple team and see what other produce they have, its mind blogging, what produce they have there. You should also have a look at there dry goods as well, Especially the Organic, gluten free & vegan pasta, a good range.
See next weeks post on Gluten free and how it effects your body.