Monday, October 31, 2011

Asparagus Hollandaise Risotto

It's a secret obsession of any blogger to be the first one to try something out.  It's never as much fun writing creeds of cookery when you know that every one of New Zealand's food blogs have already done the same post as you.  With every second person who has elevated themselves from takeaway pizza and a Sunday roast now writing a food blog it can be hard to be original.

So it is that I proudly declare some originality.  I have not been able to find the following words in this order on google.  Asparagus, Hollandaise, Risotto.

 Maybe there's a reason for that.  Maybe others have thought this one through, then produced curdled sickly results which could never be mentioned again.  Maybe others have thought there is no reason to tarnish a perfectly simple dish with one extra added flavor. Maybe others are considering their waists and refuse to indulge their midweek risotto in a little bit of naughtiness.

And so it is that I am prepared to sacrifice my cooking dignity, my waistline, and my tastebuds to this experiment.  In truth I only have the last of that trio in tact so there's not much to lose.

The inspiration came from the new season Asparagus which most foodies are very partial too.  The kind of delight that vegetable purists would say to leave alone.  Season it and then grace it with a bit of butter.  That's it.  I am very fond of 'naked' Asparagus, however it isn't that substantial is it?

I needed something to fill it out and my mind could not get away from Hollandaise sauce.  If you've never made your own Hollandaise you really must give it a go.  After a few attempts you'll have it down pat and it's one of those sauces that just can't be replicated by any of the bottled varieties.  Silky and buttery with just a little hint of tang a good Hollandaise will envelop and ooze over whatever it adorns.

The most alarming aspect of attempting this yourself will be that you will now know the contents of that delicious sauce you've been having over your eggs every time you head to the local cafe.  It's hard to feel guilt free when the evidence is right in front of you.

It has a reputation of being temperamental.  Seizing or curdling without warning.  And that's where the practice comes in.  Take things slow and you'll soon get the feel for it.  The trick is to ensure that the clarified butter is whisked in bit by bit, waiting for the last lot to emulsify, before adding any more.

As an experienced sauce man I can knock out a Hollandaise in around 15 minutes but you should give yourself twice that if you're new to the technique.

Now this recipe comes in two parts.  The sauce, and the Risotto.  Each has it's uses on it's own.  You can prepare the Hollandaise first and put to one side while you then get stuck into the Risotto.

Asparagus, Hollandaise Risotto

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 4-6


Hollandaise Sauce

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp water
4 lightly crushed whole peppercorns
2 egg yolks
120g unsalted butter, clarified.
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice.
pinch of cayenne pepper.

  1. To clarify the butter cut into small cubes and then put into a saucepan.  Heat gently until the milk solids (white, frothy bits) start to separate from the fat (clear yellow liquid).  Carefully pour the clear liquid into a pouring jug and put to one side. 
  2. In a small saucepan place the vinegar, water, and peppercorns and put on a low heat.  Bring to the boil, it will only take a minute.  Reduce the volume by half.
  3. Remove from the heat, strain the liquid into a heatproof glass bowl and then leave to cool.
  4. Add the egg yolks to the liquid and whisk together.
  5. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water where the base of the bowl is just above, but not touching, the water.  Whisk the mixture for 5-6 minutes until it thickens and s ribbon-like, creamy, and smooth in texture.
  6. Take the bowl off the heat and then place on a folded tea towel, which will prevent it moving.  You are going to need your hands for other things!  Slowly add the clarified butter pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream and whisking until the sauce is thick and glossy.  This is the part to take extra care with!  I would only add a Tbsp at a time to start so you can see the actual change that occurs as you mix in the butter.  Once you're confident you can start to add more at a time.
  7. Next is the seasoning.  Lemon juice, salt, a dash of cayenne pepper and some white pepper.  Taste and adjust, taste and adjust.  If you get it just right it should give you shivers down the spine!

The Risotto

600 ml Chicken/Vege Stock
1/4 cup wine
100g Aborio Rice
1/2 onion choped finely
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 bunch Asparagus
1/2 cup frozen peas

  1. Place the stock in a medium saucepan and put onto a medium heat.  You want the stock to be simmering, but not boiling for when you add it to the risotto.
  2. Melt the butter and the olive oil in a larger saucepan.  Add the onion and gently sweat for a few minutes on a medium heat.  Add the aborio rice and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.  You want to toast the rice in the oil.  It should start to go opaque.  Add the wine and let it cook off.
  3. Add the stock 1/3 cup at a time, stirring frequently until the stock has absorbed and then repeating that process until the rice is al dente  This should take about 20 minutes.  Remove the Risotto from the heat.
  4. Cut the woody ends off your Asparagus and peel off any woody nodules.  Place the Asparagus and the frozen peas into a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes until the Asparagus are tender but still have some bite.
  5. Drain then combine the vegetables with the Risotto.  Add half the Hollandaise to the Risotto and mix together.  Serve the Risotto and then finish by spooning over some more of the Hollandaise.
  6. The result is extraordinarily decadent.  So much so that in future I might limit myself to starter portions!  The above would make about 6 smaller portions which would go down a treat.  Just make sure you don't have anyone on a diet coming round!






Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Perfect Cracker?

So Masterchef Australia is nearing finals week!  And TVNZ have kicked out the institution that is Coronation St to make way for it.  It goes to show what a great program the Australian version of the cooking franchise is.  Without doubt it sets the benchmark for being a true amateur-come-professional reality cookery program.

The way the Australian judges, and their guests, mentor the contestants from keen enthusiasts into all consuming chef extraordinaires is truly a sight to behold, and to be honest, something I am extremely jealous of!  Especially when guest chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Thomas Keller show up!

It's going to be really interesting to catch the last few weeks and see who comes out on top.  I couldn't really pick it from here.  I think Michael is probably the most all round talented contestant left. Dani and Ellie would have had huge odds on being champ at the start of the show but they've come so far they could now go all the way!

Of course there's a lot of interest in who might win another competition which is going on at the moment.  Namely the Rugby World Cup.  Weekends are turning into very social affairs with friends and family coming around to share in the joy/commiseration of our respective teams triumphs and tribulations in the cup.

I have complete faith in the All Blacks.  Complete non wavering faith.  The same faith I had in 2007.  And 2003.  And.....you get the picture.  Tonight sees them take on their bogey team and everyone has written off the French.  In my eyes we've got a better chance than ever to take the cup but it's one game of rugby, and there can always be two winners in any game of rugby.

Of course having guests around all the time means feeding them too.  Hence there seems to have been a constant supply of cheese and crackers and chips and dips.

My new favorite thing.  A cracking cracker.

Recently my Aunty bought round some 180 degrees Walnut, Oat Crackers and I haven't been able to get enough of them since.  If you're looking for the perfect cracker to highlight a tasty cheese then these are the ones.  Buttery and crunchy with just a hint of walnut flavor they are the perfect base for a creamy Camembert or a bold blue.  If you want a real moment get some Kikorangi blue and a late harvest reisling, lock the door, turn the phone off and put some Rick Stein on.  Bliss.

Having watched a Rick Stein marathon I had run out of cheese and needed to search the fridge for something else to add to my favorite new found flavor platform.

Smoked Salmon and Watercress Crackers



Watercress Oil
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Handful of Watercress Chopped Finely
3 Tbsp EV Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp Honey
Seasoning.

180 Degrees Walnut Oat Crackers
Smoked Salmon
Kiwi Onion Dip or substitute with creme fraiche, sour cream or another dip.

In a mortar and pestle whisk together the honey, mustard and lemon juice.  Add the watercress and pound it together, extracting all the flavor.  Slowly whisk in the EV Olive Oil and then season to taste.

Cut your smoked salmon into pieces about 3 x 8 cm.

Place the salmon on top of the cracker then put a dollop of dip, creme fraiche or sour cream in the middle of the salmon.  You could ever attempt a quenelle if you're being fancy!

Wrap the salmon round the dip and then top with a drizzle of watercress.

Sit back, scoff happily and cheer on the All Blacks.  Tomorrow is going to be a long way away.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta Open Lasagna with Sage and Butter sauce...


Are vegetarians wealthy?  They don't buy meat, which is always the most expensive thing on my shopping list.  They probably don't buy leather, meaning expensive clothes and cars are out.  They probably grow a lot of their own food.  I imagine they don't eat out much as well due to the limitations forced on them by carnivorous chefs.  Am I being a bit too sterotypical?  Should I stop talking about them like a mythical creature?

Apparently only 3% of the western world is Vegetarian.  So in the interests of being representive of society at least 3 in every 100 posts on this blog must be Vegetarian!

The V word is one that can scare some.  I've never understood why.  I'm as big a meat eater as the next person but I also follow the philosophy that if it tastes good it should be celebrated.  I celebrate often.

Besides, sometimes you get that lethargic 'I've consumed too many carcasses for one week' feeling and a good shot of vegetables is just what is needed!

The below dish is one which wouldn't really fall into the healthy section, although it certainly fits into the tasty one!  Sweet pumpkin mash, caramalized onions, iron rich spinach and creamy ricotta are layered between fresh pasta sheets and then topped with a sage and pine nut butter to make a delicious offering that will persuade at least 3 in every 100 people to let Bambi live another week.


Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta Open Lasagna with a Sage and Pine Nut Butter sauce


Serves 2
Prep and Cook Time: 60 minutes

This dish involves getting all the components together and then putting it together at the end.  Try to get your timings right to ensure everything is still warm.

1kg Pumpkin
30g Butter
Fresh Pasta Sheets
3/4 cup Ricotta
Spinach
1/4 cup Pine Nuts
A few Sage leaves ( I used 10 small ones)
1/2 Red Onion
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Parmesan shavings
Crispy sage leaves (whole leaves cooked for 10 seconds in hot oil) [optional]
  • Turn your oven onto about 200 degrees C.
  • Skin and De-seed your pumpkin then chop into chunks about 4x4cm.  Cover in 2 Tbsp Olive oil and season then place in an oven tray lined with baking paper.  Chuck in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, turning once.
  • While that's cooking cut the onion into slices and put in a cold pan with 1tbsp Olive Oil.  Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring often so it doesn't color too much.  Mix in the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, season, and then cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Using either a ramekin dish or pastry rings about 9cm wide cut 8 circles of pasta out of the sheets.

  • Place the pine nuts in a small roasting dish and roast until nice and toasted.  Be careful not to burn them.  It should take only 2-4 minutes.
  • Cook the spinach as per packet instructions.  I used frozen spinach but fresh works even better.  Ensure that you let the spinach drain and squeeze out that extra moisture.
  • Remove the cooked pumpkin from the oven and place into a medium sized saucepan.  Mash magnificently.  Add a small knob of the butter and 1/4 cup of the ricotta.  Place on a low heat stirring constantly until the mash is smooth and thick. Mix in half of the pine nuts to give some texture to the dish.
  • Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan then add the chopped sage leaves  Cook on a medium heat until the butter lets off a wonderful nutty aroma and goes slightly brown.  Add the remaining pine nuts and remove from the heat.

  • At the last minute cook your pasta.  As it's fresh pasta it will only take between 3-4 minutes.  Cook the rounds in plenty of boiling salted water.  When al dente drain the pasta well.
  • Construct!!! This is where all the parts become one.  Do with finesse if you have guests.  Do quickly if you are hungry.  Layer your cooked concoctions in this order.  Pasta, Pumpkin, Caramalized Onions, Pasta, Spinach, Ricotta, Pasta, Pumpkin, Pasta.  Top with a bit of the Caramalized Onion, some shavings of parmesan and some crispy sage leaves.  Drizzle the sage and pine nut butter over the lasagna and around the plate.

And after all that the only thing left to do will be to ring your local butcher and tell him why you aren't coming round so often anymore.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Number 5 is alive!! - Restaurant Review

Number 5
5 City Rd (behind the Langham)
Auckland City

Ph: 09 309 9273

7.5/10

I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling frustrated by the sudden influx of group buying sites infiltrating the market.  Frustrating they are because they promise to deliver you something cheap.  The bargain hunter in me cannot ignore the potential opportunity to pick up a bargain.

Signed up to nigh on nine million emails a day it seems I am forever deleting promises of amazing deals, days after they've even expired.

However, every now and then a golden nugget comes along.  A reputable business with a name you can trust offering a true deal which cannot be missed.  Such it was with Number 5 restaurant in City Rd.  The deal was 2 for 1 on the $99, five course, degustation menu.

Number 5 was appealing in two ways.  Firstly it has a reputation as being a provider of fine food in an elegant setting.  Secondly it's name is shared by my favorite of movie characters.  Yes I am a big kid at heart and any reference to the Short Circuit movies has me weak at the knees:



We excitedly booked ourselves in for a Tuesday night.  5 course Tuesday?  Yep.  A bit wild.  No Shortland St this evening!

We were welcomed into a quiet dining room by the lovely waiting staff.  It's a really inviting space to dine.  Intimately sized but not too crowded.  An ornate fireplace and chandeliers combine with well chosen fabrics and colors to make the place feel fancy, but inviting.  There is a sense that they are trying to create a feel of opulence and it does seem a little like the type of place where you may have to question which fork to use.  However the friendly staff counter this with their warm persona.

We're quickly shown through the five course menu and my mouth is watering.  I feel like I'm going to have to make excuses when we pull out our 2 for 1 voucher because it truly is a bargain.

DEGUSTATION MENU
 
TEMPURA PRAWNS
SHELLFISH BISQUE, ROUILLE
*****
LOIN OF VENISON TARTARE
JUNIPER SALT, FREE RANGE HEN’S YOLK
*****
LIMONCELLO SORBET
*****
SEARED DUCK BREAST, CONFIT DUCK LEG
BROAD BEAN FRICASSE, FONDANT POTATO
*****
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY FONDANT
RASPBERRY RIPPLE ICE CREAM

Matching wines are available for $55 extra per person and as the restaurant is quite noted for it's wine list it is definitely worth considering that extra embellishment.  However as we're both driving home we decide to go with just a couple of the recommendations.


As it's a school night we quickly tuck in and the first course arrives.  The flavors are adequate and I'm quickly asking for some bread to sop up the bisque.  The tempura batter is more like a beer batter although I think the dish is better for it.  It's matched wonderfully with the 36 bottles Central Otago Pinot Gris.  A quite strong drop that shows that NZ Pinot Gris does not have to always be the light bodied variety.

Following this is the venison loin tartare.  It's topped with a raw egg yolk.  A hen's yolk to be as precise as the menu.  Sometimes clarification can go overboard but I am thrilled they've chosen the hen's yolk as opposed to....?  It's perfectly seasoned with juniper salt and capers and served with crispy toast.  It's yum. Perfectly seasoned to highlight the beautifully tender venison.  It is fresh and invigorating.  Again it is wonderfully paired with a very fruity Pinot Noir.

Our third 'course' is a limoncello sorbet.  Not so much a course as a menu filler, however they could give me a tub of the stuff to take home if they like!  It possessed a beautiful balance of tart and sweet.

By this time the fact it was Tuesday was starting to hit home.  We're going to have a full belly after this lot!

Fourth course was one I was very much looking forward to.  Seared duck breast and confit leg served on a fricassee of broad beans and peas with potato fondant.  It screamed French Bistro and is the type of food I love to cook.  The duck was cooked well, with the confit leg shredded and incorporated into the fricassee.  As it happens the potato fondant was cut so small that its flavor got lost in the fricassee and it became merely a texture.  It was a well constructed dish however it needed maybe one extra flavor or one extra piece of wow to bring it up to fine dining standards.

Our we can't eat anymore but we will dish was the dessert.  Raspberry Chocolate Fondant served with Raspberry Ripple ice cream and a chocolate chip tuille.  It's one of those moments of undeniable dining room joy when you slice through a hot chocolate fondant to see a slowly exuding richness of goo flowing onto the plate.  And this dish didn't disappoint.  It became a pleasurable pain as we paused for minutes between each mouthful hoping our tummies would work overtime to make a little extra space for another go at the joyful offering.

The chef had managed to infuse the fondant with a fantastic raspberry flavour, yet the texture of the pudding was smooth and delectable.  Not wanting to miss a possible technique I find out from the staff that freeze dried raspberries are ground up into a powder and then incorporated into the fondant batter. 

I briefly encountered freeze dried fruits in the Masterchef kitchen.  You can purchase them from Sous Chef.  Quite pricey for the home kitchen but if you want to give a dinner party dish a real wow factor they're worth considering.

All in all Number 5 was a very pleasurable dining experience.  I really enjoyed the setting and the food.  Three dishes out of the five were standouts.  It seems like a dependable place.  Really good food and a fantastic wine list in a fine dining setting with warm and friendly waiting staff.  What more could you ask for?

Another 2 for 1 voucher perhaps?  Yes Please!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Back with a

Light switch.........on.  I know there is an oven in here somewhere.

There are certain lessons you can only learn with age.  Certain tricks which only Mother Time will divulge to you.  Sometimes when you saturate yourself in something you wind up drowning.

Ever since setting foot in a magical world of make believe cookery my mind became obsessed by food.  A steady flame of intrigue was doused in a petrol of potential as fanciful dreams became real life experiences for me to live and breathe.

And then, like being at the end of a 10 course degustation menu, my stomach and mind could take no more.  Full to the brim with ideas and thoughts about food an uneasy malaise took over as I vacated the kitchen and distanced myself from my frying pan.

Too much of a good thing........


Well as it turns out the above is all rubbish.  So here I am.  Back again to share my love of food.  After spending far too many late nights trying to remember if I poured a 1/4 cup or a 1/2 cup of wine into that sauce, or whether I added any extra seasoning, I decided I needed a break......but it couldn't last.  You can never deny yourself that which you truly love.

The last few months have seen me out and about enjoying the inspiration and creation of others.  Some weeks ago was The Food Show in Auckland.  A veritable mosh pit of foodies bouncing to the rhythm of tiny samples of wine and the Heller's sausage and bacon stand (honestly I've never seen a free food scrum like it!).  It was a day of good food and good wine.  A few of the products I found really excited me and you'll see them in my next few recipes.  Along with much consuming there was also a lot of learning and I managed to catch a few professional prodigy chefs saying a few words too!

Celebrity Chef!
Always cooks with love this one 
More recently was a pleasant surprise from my Wife.  A weekend away to the Coromandel to attend the Whitianga Scallop Festival.  Intended as a celebration of the start of scallop season it wound up as more of a celebration of the local vineyards but was a great trip away. thoroughly enjoyed by the both of us.

Paella for 100 anyone?

Yes Please!!!!

Slipper Lobsters....Like eating little aliens.  Ripley?!?!?

Nothing like putting on a good smile if you need to shift some bird balls 
Another reason to visit the Coromandel.... 

Sandwiched in between was perhaps my most pressured cooking experience since being on the Masterchef show.  Cooking a 3 course meal for my Mum's seventieth birthday with 18 guests.  It was a magnificent occasion and something I was so honored to treat my family to.  Many hadn't even known I had this cooking obsession until they saw me on the show.  Here's the menu I cooked:

Starter
Smoked Salmon and Potato Cake Stack.  Poached Quail Egg with Wasabi Mayonnaise and Tomato Chipotle Butter.

Main
Crispy Pork Belly with Parsnip Puree, Braised Fennel, Apple and Fig Compote and a Thyme Jus.

Dessert
Coconut, Lime and Ginger Cake.  Cardomon Panna Cotta. Bourbon scented Caramalized Mango and A Vanilla, Cardomon Syrup.

My two brothers helped me prep all day and we knocked out every course in a combined and orderly fashion.  Probably the first time you could ever say that if all us siblings were involved!  It really was a true family celebration and something I am still immensely proud of.  Happy Birthday Mum!

Mum has allowed me to share these recipes with anyone else who feels like treating someone special to a fancy meal and these will be on the site shortly.  I also have a review of Number 5 restaurant in the city and a beautiful vegetarian lasagna recipe.  Sometimes when you saturate yourself in something you wind up drowning.


It's good to be back.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Raymond Blanc - A Cake and a Memory

If your life was to be put into a book.  If from the moment you were born to the moment you are now was penned in an enjoyable prose which page would you turn to first?  Which time in your life would you most like to recall?  To read all about it as if you where someone looking in.  Moments such as Weddings and arrivals of the first born would spring to the minds of many of us I'm sure.

Outside the restaurant at Le Manoir
One chapter that would be pretty high on a list of must read bits from my own life would be my 30th birthday party.  Life seemed to change when I hit 30.  Suddenly I became of the opinion that I've been on this planet long enough to actually know what I'm talking about.  I'm not sure that anyone else thought that way though!

Without question the most memorable part of my 30th birthday was a surprise weekend away.  My wife and I had started to develop a tendency for blowing our meager savings on the ultimate in fine dining.  On these eating escapades I would be like a bright eyed child on the night before Christmas, eager beyond words and precariously excited by all who walked past our table.  'What are they doing?  Oh that's pretty.  Mmmm what is that smell?  Did you see that dessert?  Oh my gosh I can't wait for dessert.'

Picking up on this my wife treated the two of us to 2 nights at Le Manoir Aux Quart Saison.  Raymond Blanc's countryside retreat in Oxfordshire, England, which is both a 2 Michelin star restaurant and a five star bed and breakfast.  It is the epitome of indulgence.  Huge ornately decorated rooms, with all the luxuries you can imagine.  A world famous restaurant that serves classic french cuisine.  The largest vegetable garden you have ever seen where Raymond's dedicated team grow as many things as they can for use in the restaurant kitchen.  Beautiful grounds to walk around and relax before dinner.  A wine list and a menu which would make any foodie weak at the knees.  Heaven.

Just part of the most impressive vegetable garden I've ever seen!
When guided to our room we were asked if we would like some tea and cake.  Being where we were it would have been foolish to turn down any food on offer so we accepted gratefully.  The cake that arrived was a moist and delicious lemon cake.  Tangy with citrus bite and covered in a decadently sweet glaze it was a great first or many magnificent mouthfuls that weekend.

Watching Food TV last Monday I saw none other than Raymond Blanc exclaiming how we should all get into baking.  And to demonstrate he cooked that very lemon cake.  I watched it through with a grin from ear to ear.  Recalling the joy that was my 30th birthday present from my lovely wife.  I also thought this must be shared with all!

I'm not a baker.  In fact far from it.  When work holds morning teas I get away with cooking savories such as a nice quiche or going all sweet with a good tart.  Loathed will I be if I have to actually put a cake together!  Well the good news with this baked delight is that it requires almost no skill at all!  Simply put the ingredients together, chuck it in the oven and then jazz it up with a few extra touches.

Raymond Blanc's Lemon Cake
courtesy of Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets, Monday 8.30pm, Food TV

Nothing like a freshly baked cake

Ingredients

280g plain Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
300g Caster Sugar
5 Eggs
Juice and Zest of 3 Lemons
140g Cream
80g Melted Butter
2 Tbsp Rum

50g Apricot Jam or Maramlade
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
150g Icing Sugar



Method

1. In a large bowl put the eggs, sugar, zest and juice of the 3 lemons, double cream, and melted butter.  Whisk well to combine.
2.  Add the Rum and whisk again.
3.  Add the sifted flour and baking powder.  Whisk vigorously to create a thick, smooth batter.

The batter should be thick enough that the whisk leaves a trail.
 4.  Pour the batter into a baking tin lined with baking paper.  I used a 30cm loaf tin.


5.  Place in an oven at 180 degrees C for 50-60 minutes.
6.  Test it is cooked by stabbing with a skewer.  If the skewer comes out clean then the cake is ready.
7.  Remove from the tin and leave to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack.
8.  Heat the Apricot/Marmalade Jam gently in a saucepan.  When warm and viscous use a pastry brush to coat the lemon cake with the jam.
9.  Make the Lemon icing by adding the Icing Sugar and the Lemon Juice together in a saucepan and heat gently while stirring until you have thick icing (about 3-5 minutes).
10.  Coat the cake with the Lemon Icing using the pastry brush.  Leave to cool and then cut a huge slice and enjoy with a cup of earl grey tea.

Where's that cup of tea?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Land of the Rising Star - Cocoro - Restaurant Review

Recently Metro held it's annual review of the Top 50 Auckland Restaurants. The awards are designed as a show and tell of the best cuisine that New Zealand's largest city has to offer. Often the list contains the evergreen enterprises. Those restaurants that have always been the stand out performers, such as The French Cafe and The Grove. Now and again the list will also contain a new, rising star.

Hard at work in a well designed kitchen
This year's new star was Cocoro, a recent addition to the Ponsonby dining scene. Luckily for them the awards were held in Auckland, otherwise they may have needed to pay for excess baggage on the flight home. Overall the restaurant walked away with 3 Top Honors. Two for the Restaurant and one for the Chef/Owner, Makoto Tokuyama, who was awarded Restaurant Personality of the Year.

Cocoro describes itself as New Japanese Cuisine. It's a cuisine that has come a long way in the last five years. Tokyo now places itself as one of the culinary meccas of the world, with more Michelin star kitchens than Paris. Of course this is helped by the sheer monstrosity of the mega metropolis and the incredible wealth that is there but none-the-less there has been a definite advance in the appreciation of the skills, the application, and the flavors that top Japanese chefs are now bringing towards the concept of modern cuisine.

The popularity of Fusion cuisine in decades past allowed the introduction of the flavors of Japan onto the western palate. Ingredients such as Miso, Yuzu, Sake, Mirin and Black Sesame all became identifiable with your standard diner. Japanese cuisine has now gone past that idea of fusion and it is starting to demonstrate it's true reportoire.  Cocoro goes a long way to proving that there is more than Chicken Teriyaki and California Rolls on offer.

The restaurant is a very stylish room. A small number of well positioned tables line each side of the restaurant while an impressively imposing Makrakapa table, large enough for 20, adorns the middle. Slat walls and minimal decorations create a precisely relaxed feel. Whish is appropriate to the dining style on offer, exact but enjoyable. We have little hesitation in choosing the degustation menu. With six courses priced at $80 it has to be one of the best value degusations on offer in Auckland.

The first course comes served in a persimmon. Snapper marinated with a Yuzu-Miso sauce and combined with the persimmon to give a delightfully sweet dish. The snapper, being cooked by the marinade only, is delicate on the tongue and works wonderfully with the sweet persimmon and the sour sauce. We're off to a good start.


The next course typifies the joy that Cocoro can deliver.  And it's one of those moments that you can have only once.  *Spoiler Alert*  The waiter brings out four tower style boxes, which he cheekily calls our mystery box, every Masterchef contestants most hated of words.  The top is lifted to reveal a Te Matuku Bay Oyster delicately decorated with Ponzu Vinegar, Ginger and Chive.  It is presented as if it is on a throne and gives a great sense of theatrics to the meal.  Th tower is then folded open to reveal two hidden layers with further treats.  Akaroa Salmon Sashimi of the highest quality and a Bluefin Tuna Nigri which earns it's place as the best single piece of Sushi I have ever eaten.


But wait.....there's more
 

The Mystery Box revealed.

The fish course has a pan fried fillet of Warehou served on Tempura battered Eggplant with a sweet Yuzu-Miso Sauce. The fish is slightly overcooked and the eggplant comes in rather large pieces, resulting in a mushy texture, rather than that wonderful crispness you expect when you see the word Tempura. The sauce however is divine.

Our main course is a duck confit which has been slow cooked at 60 deg C in duck fat and then finished on a charcoal grill. The slow cooking results in melt in your mouth meat and the charcoal flavor of the crispy skin is a delightful touch. It is served beautifully with two types of fig along with two contrasting sauces. A sweet Nori sauce and a salty Miso and Sesame sauce. It's a great marriage of flavors and my only regret is that it has disappeared in six exuberant mouthfuls.

Decorated Duck

We are then offered an extra course of Buckwheat noodles in a Miso broth. We are perhaps a bit keen in getting this as already we are filling up and the idea of what is essentially a lunch sized noodle soup after already consuming five courses was perhaps due to us not wanting to miss out on anything exciting, rather than needing more sustenance. For the record the dish is tasty, but it isn't exciting.

Dessert, which can always be a scary concept in an Asian restaurant, consists of a black sesame creme brûlée, that is the definition of fusion cuisine, a particularly refreshing green tea miso and vanilla ice cream and a valrhona chocolate fondue. I wind up creating my own ice cream sundae with the components and leaving some rather forgettable additions such as the chocolate and sweet bean cake.

To finish the adventure Chef Tokuyama himself comes to deliver a refreshing granita of plum wine, mandarin and mint which whisks away any thoughts of over consumed lethargy and leaves our palates clean and excited. As we tell him of our favorite parts of his menu it is obvious that he loves what he does and like all good chefs he has a real passion for the origin of the food and the quality that he puts on the plate. Our meal has been a classic demonstration of using quality ingredients, sourced with care, in an exciting and innovative way.

The service was exceptional and food was almost the same. We entered the room with two non sake drinkers and one who wouldn't eat raw fish or anything weird. We left as four people converted. Converted to Cocoro. If you like a bit of adventure in your food and appreciate good aesthetics then this is the place for you.

Cocoro


Ph:09 360 0927
56A Brown St, Ponsonby
Website

Cost $100pp for degustation menus, Sake and Wine.

Food:  8/10 
Atmosphere: 8/10
Service: 10/10
Price: 8/10

Overall: 8/10  Essential Dining

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fennel spiced Chicken served with Spinach, Tortilla and Paprika Oil

During my time in the Masterchef house I learned quite a few things in the kitchen.  In fact all of the contestants got caught up in this exponential learning curve of cuisine.  Knowledge piled on knowledge.  Hour after hour.  Day after day.  It's probably also no surprise that being surrounded by a number of intensely passionate foodies lead to a few worthwhile cooking demonstrations!  Simple meals would quickly evolve into five course extravaganzas as we vied with each other to shoe our true passion for food.

It was one sunny evening that we returned home to fire up the BBQ that the kitchen Ninja, Michael, pulled out this amazing marinade for some succulent chicken.  Pulling together Smoked Paprika, Fennel, Garlic and Lemon juice it was a fantastically flavorful marinade.  That marinade formed the inspiration of this dish.

Served on a bed of spinach the chicken is paired with a perfectly petite individual Tortilla, or Spanish omlette. And to tie it all together the dish is decorated with some easy peasy paprika oil and some sauteed capsicum and red onion.

This is the type of dish you can easily serve for a fancy lunch when you've got some friends coming over.  Simply prep all your ingredients including the oil, have the tortillas ready to put in the oven, and then finish it once you've all caught up on the week's gossip and are ready for some food.


Fennel spiced Chicken served with Spinach, Tortilla and Paprika Oil



Serves 2
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 35 min

Ingredients

2 chicken thighs boned (preferably as fast as this guy can with his Whizard trimmer)
Marinade
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
1tsp Fennel seeds
1tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Chilli powder
Large Pinch Pepper

150g Potato, peeled
2 Eggs
2 Tbsp cream
20g Butter
2 Medium sized dariole moulds or ramekins

100g Spinach leaves
1 Tbsp Butter
Dash of Olive Oil

1/2 Red Capsicum
1/2 Yellow Capsicum
1/2 Red Onion

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Paprika
Dash of Tabasco sauce

Fresh, Colorful, Tasty

Method

1.  First you need to Marinade your chicken.  Fry the fennel seeds in a dry pan for 1 minute until fragrant.  Crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle.  Add to a shallow bowl along with all the other marinade ingredients and mix well.  Cut slits in the thicker parts of the thighs and try to flatten it until the chicken is an even thickness.This will allow the marinade to penetrate the meat and also make it easier to cook evenly.
2.  Add the chicken to the marinade, ensuring the meat is nicely coated, then place in the fridge for at least an hour but preferably overnight.
3.  Slice the peeled potatoes in half and then cut them into slices about 5mm thick.  Place in a saucepan cover with cold water and then bring to the boil.  Salt the water once boiled and leave the Potatoes to cook for about 8-10 min, until they are tender, but not quite done.  Drain and leave to cool.

4.  Grease four ramekins or dariole moulds then layer the slices of potato into the mould.  Half way to the top season the potatoes, then continue layering.
5.  Whisk together the egg and cream, then season.  Pour the egg mixture into the moulds covering the Potato.
6.  Place a small bit of butter on top of the mix and then place them in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden and the egg has cooked through.
7.  Season the chicken thighs with salt and then fry on a medium heat for about 12-15 minutes, turning once until cooked all the way through.  Leave to rest for a few minutes.

8.  Dice the onion and capsicum into small pieces.  Place into a hot frying pan with 1 Tbsp Olive oil and cook for about 5 minutes.  Place to the side.
9.  In the same pan add the 1 Tbsp remaining Olive Oil along with the Paprika and the Tabasco.  Heat gently for 2 minutes and mix well. Remove from the heat.
10.  In a large saucepan melt 1 Tbsp butter and a dash of olive oil.  Add the spinach and then cover with a lid.  After about 2 min the spinach should have wilted.  Season and stir to combine.  Put the spinach in a colander allowing the excess water to drain.
11.  To serve place the spinach on the plate.  Cut the chicken thigh in half and place on top of the spinach.  Run a knife around the cooked Tortilla and remove from the mould onto the dish.  Dress the plate with the paprika oil and then decorate with the capsicum onion mix.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tales from the Soup Kitchen- Le Classique - French Onion Soup.

Ahhhhh.   Soup.  Comforting, rewarding and potentially healthy.  There is nothing quite as soothing on a chilly winter evening than wrapping up in a blanket, putting on a DVD and grasping hold of a big bowl of your favorite soup.  Requiring little effort to chew, and even less to cook it is also a great meal for those of us watching our bank balances or those of us watching our weight.  Those two criteria of course account for most of us, except Sumo wrestlers.  They're very well paid.

However even the Sumo wrestlers would find it tough to turn down this particular offering of French Onion Soup.



A gamechanger of a dish it is the type of meal that demonstrates that as long as you cook it well you can make anything taste good.  Even a bowl of Onions.  Of course it would take the arrogance of a Frenchman to come up with something so audacious.  A rich sweet soup topped with grilled bread covered in cheese.  It doesn't get much better than that.

People will turn their nose at the idea of eating onions however it is likely their turned snouts have never smelt a truly sweet, well caramelized onion soup.  The key to getting it good enough for Phillipe to stay for some fromage is to use as good a stock as you can afford (or make).  It is also essential to caramelize the onions so that the finished dish winds up sweet.  Caramelizing onions involves cooking them low and slow and stirring frequently to ensure they don't burn.  You will see your onions go through a change in colour from White-Translucent-Light Yellow-Light Brown.  Then, and only then, you are ready to add the stock and start cooking down your quick food ticket to gay paris

Onions 10 minutes in.  Translucent, but not enough color yet!

30 minutes in.  Notice the light brown colour without any actual black, which would cause bitterness.


French Onion Soup Recipe



Serves 3
Prep Time 10 min
Cooking Time 1 hr

Ingredients
 
750g Onions, about seven small or 4-5 Large.  White, Red or a mixture works well.
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 sprigs Thyme, leaves removed
2 Tbsp Brandy
1 Tbsp Flour

500ml Beef Stock
250ml Water
2 Bay leaves
(for a lighter flavor replace the beef stock and water with 3 cups of chicken stock)

4 slices Inch thick French bread.
100-150g Gruyere Cheese

 Method

1. Chop your onions in half then into thin slices.  Wear swimming goggles if you want to avoid some tears.
2.  Place 2 Tbsp Olive Oil in a large cold pan and then add the onions.  Cook gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramelized.
3.  Add the garlic.  Cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the Brandy and Thyme.  Reduce the brandy right down.
4.  Add the flour, stir and cook for a further 2 minutes.
5.  Add the stock, water and bay leaves.  Stir to combine.
6.  Cook for a further 20 minutes on a gentle simmer.
7.  When the soup is almost ready place your sliced bread onto an oven tray and drizzle over some olive oil.  Place under a hot grill and toast both sides of the bread until golden.
8.  Drown the bread in a thick covering of Gruyere cheese and then put under the grill again to melt the cheese. (if you have oven proof soup bowls then divide the soup, place the bread and cheese on top, then put under the grill for that authentic look).
9.  Serve the soup with the toasted bread and cheese on top.  Sit down and savor that sweet caramel flavor from the onions, combined with that rich taste from the stock.



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Soljans Winery and Cafe

West Auckland. Land of the long haired bourbon drinking folk, adorned in black with the sounds of the Eagles and Metallica drifting from their stolen stereos.  The emergence of Outrageous Fortune as one of the country's favorite TV shows has only gone to cement the idea that West Aucklanders are cut from a rough type of cloth.

Of course before all this West Auckland was famous for other things.  It's wine being one of them.  Populated by immigrants from the Adriatic these people bought with them both their possessions, their hopes, and their love for producing wine.  Lincoln Rd, the arterial hub of the west, was once awash with vines.

Urban development and the need for more shopping malls saw this change as land became more valuable and the need for a winery to have locally grown grapes diminished.  Luckily for us, one of these westie wineries hasn't moved too far.

10 minutes down State Highway 16, before you come to Kumeu, is Soljans Winery and Cafe.  Standing at the gateway to the wine country of Kumeu it is not only a great place to sample some nice wine but also to sample some pretty tasty food.

Having relocated here in 2002 it is now a well settled enterprise which attracts both the tourists on the wine trails as well as the locals looking for a relaxing meal.  Described as a Cafe it certainly looks that way.  But do not fret.  Your trip out west will not be in vain.  Once you receive the menu you will see that it is more than muffins, pre-made sandwiches and carrot cake on offer.  In fact, for a place that is only open for lunch it has quite an impressive selection of main meals for you to enjoy.

There is a lovely outdoor section which is a sun trap in summer time, and with a small playground and large outdoor area it is a great place to bring the little ones.  Kelly and I peruse the menu.  I'm torn between two or three dishes, which is always a good thing.  I would rather be spoiled for choice than limited to one thing.

I decide on the Roasted corn-fed chicken breast farced with basil, parma ham and boccocini.  Farced, I have now learned, means stuffed.  It always intrigues me how eateries come up with fanciful ways to describe rudimentary things.  Almost as if it is essential that there is one misunderstood word on every menu.


The chicken came served on a risotto mixed with Olives, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Rocket.  It looks amazingly rustic.  And I can't wait to dive in.  To stuff, sorry I mean farce, the chicken breast the chef has bored a hole right through and then filled it with the good stuff.  Mozarella, Ham and Basil.  The chicken is well cooked and it quickly starts to disappear.  The risotto is not as creamy as I would like.  The olives and tomatoes are a lovely touch, however the rocket has wilted with the heat of the dish and wound up like peppery pieces of rope.  Having so many strong flavors on the plate it surprises me that the dish lacks a bit of punch which I think comes down to the seasoning.  It needed just a little more to take it to that extra level.

Kelly chose the Pork Belly.  Now a popular cut in restaurants the world over.  My only gripe on this is it's made a cheap cut more expensive as butchers eye an extra dollar or two!  This version is slow cooked and served with Potato Fondant, Shanghai bok choy a red wine jus and a mustard and apple foam.

I can tell the pork is good because it's almost disappeared by the time I pluck up the courage to ask my wife for a taste.  When I do get a forkful I find that it is melt in your mouth tender.  The skin has crisped up perhaps a tad too far but it's good enough that none gets left on the plate.  The Potato fondant is a nice accompaniment and while the jus and mustard apple foam are nice again there is a lack of elevation in the taste that seems like it could be easily rectified.

The fact that the dishes have these fancy touches, like the foam, or the stuffing of the breast, indicates that you have chefs who are trying to do more than just feed people, but excite them as well.  The relaxed cafe atmosphere, and casual student enrolled service belies the sophistication which is presented on the plate.  Each dish was priced at $24.  For the amount of cooking and the style that you are receiving this is good value.  It is a shame that the dishes have just missed the mark in terms of their true potential.  It would also be nice to have service where the staff are interested in assisting you.  My inquiry as to what the word farced meant was responded with a simple 'Sorry, don't know'. 

It would be remiss of me to discuss our meal at the winery without at least commenting on the wine.  As you would expect the list contains an exclusive selection of Soljan wines.  The menu has helpfully provided the staff picks for each dish and in a winery cafe you know that their recommended pairings will be able to be trusted.

The pork is paired with a lively Chardonnay.  The Barrique 2010 reserve.   It is full of asian flavors like lychee and ginger.  I'm suddenly whisked to Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong.  With my chicken I have a Pinot Gris that is light and buttery, almost like a more subtle Chadonnay.  Both wines are enjoyable.

So all in all it is a good lunch and a worthwhile adventure to the west of the west.  For the price per dish you are getting value for money and with a relaxed, family friendly environment it is a definitely a place to go.  So why not don your best black jeans, tell the lady to grab her leopard print jacket and head to the west.  Just remember to lock the car door ok?

Soljans Cafe And Winery

366 State Highway 16, PO Box 590 Kumeu, Auckland 1215, New Zealand
Ph: 09 412 2680

Food                   7/10
Atmosphere        6/10
Service               6/10
Value                 8/10
Overall          6.5/10

Menu

Summer hours (1st December-31st March):
Monday - Friday 10am-3pm
Saturday & Sunday 9am-3pm.

Winter hours(1st April-30th November):
Monday to Friday 11am-2.30pm
Saturday & Sunday 9am-3pm


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dark Chocolate Tart with Ginger and Cinnamon Poached Pear

As the nights get colder and darker my need for a sweet finish to the evening tends to increase.  Inner comfort required to replace the outer comfort lost by the lack of a balmy evening.  However it can be hard, especially during the week, to find the time or the energy to put into making a dessert.

After getting through the door, donning the slippers and the pair of comfy trackpants it can be hard enough getting some food in the cat's bowl, let alone feeding the Wife and I!

A good trick I find is to make a couple of extra servings of dinner the night before so that you can spend all your efforts on the dessert dish and simply reheat your main course in the microwave.  So why not try that and give yourself a few spare moments to put together this delectable offering?

This dish started with the Pear.  Seen as a winter fruit they are actually available almost year round.  It seems that only when the summer fruits leave the shelves the Pear starts to creep it's way into the shopping baskets of New Zealanders.  The trick to enjoying them is having them perfectly ripe.  Too hard, and they lack the juiciness required.  Too soft and the texture becomes mushy and not enjoyable.  Just right and you have yourself a few minutes of consumable heaven.

The words dessert and Pear lead us to one logical conclusion.  Chocolate.  When the world was put together there are some food unions which were always meant to be.  Bacon and Eggs.  Jelly and Ice Cream.  Fish and Chips and Watties.  Pear and Chocolate.

A match made in heaven
 We're going to poach the pear in a flavored sugar syrup.  There are many recipes around for poaching pears in wine.  And that produces an enjoyable result.  I have always found it a tad traumatic giving up a glass to the pear so am relieved that this sans wine method still gives fantastic flavor.

I've used individual tart dishes which I picked up at the Wharehouse for about $8 for four.  They come in very handy for dinner parties.  You can use a large pie or flan dish if you like but the quantities and cooking times will vary.

Dark Chocolate Tart with Ginger and Cinnamon Poached Pear


Ingredients

1 Pear, Beurre Bosc if you can.
100g Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa).  I use the Lindt stuff.  Tis good.
100g Sweet Shortcrust pastry
1/3 cup cream
1 egg, beaten
1 cup + 2Tbsp Caster Sugar
2 cups water
A thumb size piece of ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract or a vanilla pod.
1 Tbsp Butter

Method

1.  Peel and dice the ginger.  Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a medium saucepan then add the cinnamon stick and ginger.  Saute for 2 minutes.
2.  Take off the heat then add the sugar and the vanilla (if using the pod cut in half and scrape out seeds then add both seeds and pod) then about 2 cups boiling water.
3.  Put back on the heat.  Once the sugar has dissolved peel and core your pear then chop it in half.  Place each half into the sugar syrup.
4.  Cook at a simmer until the pear is tender.  About 30-40 minutes.  Take off the heat and leave the pear to cool in the sugar syrup.
5.  Meanwhile turn the oven onto 160 degrees C.  Roll out your pastry until it is approx 2-3mm thick.  Line your pastry tins with the pastry and then cut off any excess.  Prick the pastry a few times with a fork and then place in the fridge to rest for 15 minutes.
6.  Remove from the fridge.  Line the pastry with baking paper and fill the case with pie weights, or dry rice.  Place in the oven for approx 10 minutes.  Remove the weights and cook for a further 3 minutes or until the pastry is just cooked.
7.  Brush the cooked pastry case with a little of the beaten egg.  Put back in the oven for a minute.  This seals the pastry and also gives it a nice sheen.
8.  Melt the chocolate with the cream by putting both into a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  The water should be enough so that it doesn't boil dry, but not so much that it touches the bowl.
9.  In a separate bowl whisk together the egg and caster sugar then slowly add the heated chocolate mixture, stirring constantly to combine.
10.  Fill your pastry cases 3/4 of the way with the chocolate mixture then take your poached pear.  With a small knife cut slits in the pear from the stalk end to the base, so that the pear can be squashed flat into a fan shape.

Cut slits in the pear to be able to lay it flat on the tart

 11.  Place the poached pear on top of the chocolate mixture.  Chuck in the oven for about 12 minutes until the chocolate mix has set.
12.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before removing the tart from the case.
13.  Serve with some Cream sweetened with Vanilla Extract and Icing sugar and spoon over a few teaspoons of the sugar syrup for some extra sweetness.

Looks like someone enjoyed it!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Fancy Brussel Sprouts and a Mustard Lemon Cream

Is that a brussel sprout I see?
I am a changed man.  Unshackled and free.  A weekly shop is no longer confined to a list for me.  Armed with technique and knowledge I am able to scour the aisles for the best deals and ensure that my trolley always has what is fresh and what is cheap.

Liberation personified.  I pass people looking at their lists.  Wondering what to do because their favorite type of just add meat flavor sachet is not available.  I don't judge them though.  Once upon a time that was me.  It is only if you have been imprisoned that you can really appreciate being free.

Tonight's meal was put together with a selection of cheap items from the local Tallyup.  There are quite a few deals about for cheap pork at the moment.  Having eaten quite a bit of loin recently I went for a different cut.  The tenderloin.  It is a very lean meat and thus you must be careful when cooking.  If you take it too far it will be very dry.  However when cooked perfectly it can be a very enjoyable cut.

I somehow lost my mind and decided that love will conquer all, including my deep seeded fear of brussel sprouts.  Some people love them, my wife included.  Some hate them, myself included!  I distinctly remember trying anything I could as a child to hide brussel sprouts at the dinner table.  Not having a dog made it a pretty difficult task!  In fact, would a dog even eat them?!

Everything tastes better with bacon right?
The look, the taste, the smell.  They seemed like little green orbs of punishment.  Dealt out as penance for our childly sins.   To make matters worse Parents would always exclaim how gorgeous they were.  Making you believe that you would never grow up to be like them!

It so happens that the terrible smell is a result of overcooking.  If your partner asks what the stink is, from the other end of the house, chances are you've boiled them too long.

So to get through this self inflicted brussel sprout punishment we're going to have to glam up the debatable vegetable.  What better way to spruce them up with my favorite slow cooked shallots and some crispy bacon?  To make me feel even better I decided to lather it all in a creamy mustard sauce.  If the sauce is good enough I should be able to eat cardboard and enjoy it!  If that isn't encouragement enough then surely the fact that the hottest couple on the planet right now are romantically entwined with brussel sprouts should be reason enough to give them a go?  No?

Pork Tenderloin with Fancy Brussel Sprouts and a Mustard Lemon Cream

Serves 2
Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 40 min

Ingredients

3 x 100g Pork Tenderloin Pieces
200g Brussel Sprouts
300g Agria Potatoes
3 strips Streaky Bacon
4 Shallots, sliced
1/4 cup wine
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp lemon juice.
Fresh thyme.
Olive Oil.
Butter.

Your weapons for this evening
 Method

1.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
2.  Prep your meat by removing any fat or silvery bits.  You want each piece to be approx the same thickness.
 or until cooked through.
4.  Prep the brussel sprouts by chopping off the end, removing any tough outer leaves and then cutting a cross into the bottom.  This will allow them to cook and also to release some of their bitterness.  Place the brussel sprouts into rapidly boiling water and cook for 6 minutes.  Drain and then place them into an ice bath to refresh them.  This will also ensure they keep their vibrant green color.  Once they are cool drain again and leave to one side.
5.  In a small oven proof frying pan, with a small dash of oil, cook your bacon until crispy.  About five minutes on a medium heat.  Remove and place on paper towels.
6.  Season your pork and then place in the same pan, turning the heat up to high.  Cook for 1 minute on all sides to get a golden color.  Then place the pork, in the oven proof pan, into the oven for between 6-8 minutes.
7.  When cooked remove from the pan and put to one side, covered with foil.  Please do not burn your hands as I always seem to do by grabbing the pan's hot handle!  Rest the meat for about 5 minutes to allow the juices to go back into the meat.  
8.  While the meat is resting add the wine to the meat pan and place on a high heat.  Scrape off all the bits of meat residue from the bottom of the pan.  This is called deglazing.  Reduce by 2/3.
9.  While you are waiting take another pan, place on a low heat, add 1 Tbsp Butter and 1Tbsp Olive Oil then add the diced shallots.  Cook for a few minutes until translucent then add the brussel sprouts.  Saute in the butter and Olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Chop your crispy bacon and add to the pan.  Remove from the heat.
10.  Once the wine has reduced add the cream, thyme leaves and mustard.  Stir to combine and reduce the sauce until it has reached a nice consistency.  Add the lemon juice, then season to taste.
11.  To serve take the rested pork tenderloin pieces and cut them in half.  Combine your roasted potato pieces with the brussel sprout mix then spoon this onto a plate.  Top with the meat and then drizzle over your delicious sauce.

It's a very tasty dish.  It may even convert you to liking brussel sprouts.  No promises though.  Keep the dog at the ready.  Or the cat......if they seem interested.

The cat heard brussel sprouts were on the menu