i made this stuff a week ago and its been fantastic on food ever since. from classic ecco by philip johnson, new zealand-born, brisbane based chef extraordinaire. i have never been to his bistro, but have decided today that I'll have to do that when I'm next in brisbane (july!)
'classic ecco' is one of the cookbooks that requires you to plan and pay attention - as a result i havent used it enough but plan to! the recipes SOUND fantastic... just have to get to making them.
so here's a recipe as an encouragement to you to buy the book! one of the wonderful things that phlip does is give you lots of recipes for 'basics' like this.
red capsicum essence
4 red capsicums, chopped and seeded (I used 2 fresh & two char-grilled and then skinned)
4 French shallots, thinly sliced (no, not spring onions - otherwise use red onions)
3 unpeeled, lightly crushed garlic cloves
handful or basil leaves
1 star anise
gently saute the above in olive oil for 5 mins.
add 30 ml white wine vinegar and cook for a further 2 mins.
add 200ml of dry vermouth and cook for 2 mins (philip suggests 'noilly prat' vermouth. i have bad memories of too much cinzano as a young adult. I reluctantly went to the local BWS to find that they had NO vermouth - something about a change of distributors. somewhat relieved at not having to confront the cinzano bottle, i nevertheless went to the other bottle-o and found the said 'noilly pratt'... this shop has recently gone upmarket. thankfully it smells nothing like cinzano.)
add 600ml chicken stock, boil for 10-15 mins until it reduces by half. remove garlic & star anise and allow it to cool a bit.
add 100 ml fresh orange juice and puree. season with salt and pepper.
its fantastic - last night on top of big grilled mushrooms with garlic & philly cheese topping, also dolloped on a chicken frittata, in a pasta dish, etc. brilliant for vegetarians and meat eaters. i'm sure that having the char-grilled peppers added some toastiness. you could certainly give it more bite with some roasted chilli.
great recipe. wonderful book. just to wet your appetite, it has recipes like...
- blue eye cod, saffron potatoes and leeks with tomato, mint and orange salsa
- slow-cooked duck with red cabbage, bacon and hazelnuts
- scallops with potato gnocchi, roast pumpkin and sage
- rabbit confit, polenta, asparagus and herb marscapone
sounds a lot like 'planned dinner party' food, doesnt it. indeed, but I'm starting by learning the sauces and dressings and other 'basics' and going to use them with my regular cooking, and then work my way up.
tonight is halved chickens in nando's portuguese sauce (yes, straight from the bottle! I know, how could I? I should have added some fresh stuff to give it some zing.) on the webber with spuds, pumpkin and onion - plus a bit of hickory to smoke it a little.
i encourage you to try mike press wines - adelaide hills, raves from james halliday, very cheap ($10-12 per bottle). mike's been in the industry for 40 years and is trying to make good wine at a decent price. last year's vintage almost sold out, but the next is due. shiraz is stunning, cab sav big and full of flavour, sav blanc fine as a quaffer. havent tried the chardy but halliday loved it.