Witt chef tutor John Hudson has been getting saucy with tomatoes and a whole lot more.
He has created a dish featuring Angus scotch fillet steak, asparagus, slow-roasted tomatoes and a deconstructed choron sauce, vegetarian moussaka, a micro- greens salad with strawberry coriander vinaigrette and a blue cheese salad featuring chermoula dressing.
"I wanted to make sauces and dressings that people usually stay away from, and make them easier," John says.
For the steak dish, he has whipped up a citrus bearnaise sauce using the microwave, a stick blender and boiling butter to "cook" the sauce, rather than making it in a bain-marie.
"This technique can be used for hollandaise and served with grilled salmon or steaks in general and asparagus. Or egg's Benedict - everyone loves it."
He has served the seared fillet steaks on a bed of steamed and cubed flash-fried potatoes, with steamed asparagus, whole fried mushrooms and slow-roasted vine- ripened tomatoes on the side.
Just before serving, the freshly made citrus bearnaise is spooned over the steak and asparagus.
When the diner eats the dish, the juicy, sweet tomatoes mix with the citrus bearnaise to create a taste sensation that John calls a deconstructed choron sauce.
Next up is chermoula, a spicy Moroccan dressing that is a melody of flavours, starring fresh coriander and seeds, fresh Italian parsley, garlic, paprika, cumin powder, fresh ginger, chilli flakes, saffron, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and a pinch of sugar.
Armed with his trusty stick blender, John blitzes the lot to make a thick, smooth dressing. "It's basically tasting as you go."
He was heavy handed with the lemon juice, resulting in a tart dressing bursting with bright flavours.
The salad is also both visually interesting and tasting. Using a melon baller, John scoops out orbs of cucumber and Kikorangi Blue cheese.
While these two ingredients could be simply chopped into bite- sized pieces, the balls look more enticing.
Adding more lemon flavour to this dish, John squeezes juice over the avocados to prevent the slices from browning.
After arranging the cucumber, finely sliced red pepper and vine- ripened tomatoes on a plate, he drizzles on the chermoula dressing and then adds the blue cheese balls.
This salad can be increased to cater for the number of diners and, if desired, can be made in a bowl. For those who opt for the latter, gently toss the chermoula dressing through the salad, taking care not to squash the avocado and then add the blue cheese balls at the end.
For the vegetarian moussaka, John makes two sauces - a tomato, garlic, onion and oregano mixture for the layered body of the dish and a bechamel sauce for the topping.
The tomato sauce for this Greek dish is made in a pot on the stove, while the bechamel was made using the microwave.
He first melts the butter and mixes in the flour.
"The key is to heat the milk for 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave and slowly add it to your flour and butter mix a little at a time while whisking it," he says.
"I added a little bit of ground black pepper, Dijon mustard, nutmeg and grated cheese and mixed it while it was nice and hot."
This is then poured over the top of the baking dish layered with vegetables, tomato sauce, feta and cheese, and then the moussaka is cooked for a further 30 minutes.
John's final saucy offering is a strawberry and coriander vinaigrette, which he whisks together using the stick blender.
He uses the summery vinaigrette to dress the loosely mixed salad of micro-greens and trimmed snowpea shoots.
"Today it's all been about fresh ingredients and speed," John says.
"The whole thing is to relax and enjoy the different components and mix and match. Once you've got the sauces nailed, everything else is easy."
Micro-greens Salad with Strawberry Coriander Dressing
25g natural fare micro-greens
25g snow pea shoots (trim the bottoms)
4 medium strawberries washed, dried and quartered.
2 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp spiced vinegar
1. Arrange micro-greens and snow pea shoots in a bowl.
2. Using a stick blender or electric whisk, mix the strawberries, coriander, olive oil and spiced vinegar together into a smooth dressing.
3. Pour over greens and serve with vegetarian moussaka.
Blue cheese salad with dressing
Serves 1 (increase accordingly)
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 vine-ripened tomatoes cut in quarters
1/4 red capsicum, finely sliced
1/4 cucumber, either scooped into rounds using a melon baller, or diced
50g blue cheese (Kikorangi Blue), also scooped into rounds or diced
On a plate, arrange avocado, tomatoes and cucumber. Squeeze lemon over avocado to prevent browning.
Dress with chermoula dressing, add the blue cheese and serve as an entree or a light lunch.
This salad can also be made in one bowl, gently tossed with the chermoula dressing, taking care not to squash the avocado and topped with blue cheese balls.
1 handful of coriander, leaves and tender stems only, well washed
1 handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp (smoked optional) paprika
1 tsp cumin power
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
Pinch of saffron
10 tsp coriander seeds
5 Tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pinch of sugar, to sweeten if required. Combine all ingredients in a food processor (mini-sized if you have one), in a spice grinder, or with a stick blender or in a mortar and pestle.
Process until a thick, moderately rough sauce is formed.
Use to dress blue cheese salad.
Serves 4 (increase accordingly)
1 eggplant, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
3 potatoes and 3 kumara (scrubbed, steamed or boiled whole), sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp vinegar
1 x 300g can of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp fresh oregano
100g feta, crumbled (or sliced) and grated cheese
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
11/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Extra feta, cut into slices (optional)
1. Heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
2. Heat oil in a large pan, or wok (even a deep-fryer if available).
3. Flour and brown the eggplant and zucchini in the oil.
Remove from the pan, then do the same thing with the potato slices, and kumara. Also remove from pan.
4. Saute garlic and onions until browned. Add vinegar, tomatoes, and oregano. Cover and simmer on medium to low heat, for about 15 minutes.
5. Assemble the moussaka in individual dishes or one family-sized dish by layering the cooked eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, kumara and feta and grated cheese. Pour some of the tomato sauce over the sliced vegetables. Add another layer of vegetables, then sauce and then another layer, making sure the top layer is vegetables.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes.
7. While the moussaka is in the oven, make the bechamel sauce ready for the topping. Melt the butter in the microwave and mix in the flour.
Heat the milk separately in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes and slowly pour into butter-flour mixture a little at a time, while whisking. When the mixture is thick and smooth, add mustard, nutmeg and grated cheese.
8. Allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes and then mix in the beaten egg.
9. Take the vegetable portion out of the oven and pour on the bechamel sauce.
Top with parmesan cheese and/or slices of feta cheese and continue to bake for another 30 minutes.
10. Serve with micro-greens and snow pea shoot salad, and strawberry coriander dressing.
Seared fillet steaks with deconstructed choron sauce
4 fillet steaks
1 bundle of fresh asparagus
4 medium-sized potatoes
Knob of butter
8 whole vine-ripened tomatoes (still on vine)
Ground black pepper
1. Season steak well and sear in a hot pan or barbecue. Allow 5 minutes' resting time after cooking.
2. Trim and steam asparagus.
3. Saute mushrooms in oil and finish with a knob of butter.
4. Steam or boil potatoes whole, allow to cool, dice and flash fry in oil.
5. Place tomatoes whole in an oven dish, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic, salt and ground black pepper. If you prefer, you can cut each tomato in half and season the same way.
6. Slow cook the tomatoes at 120 degrees Celsius for about 1 1/2 hours or until tomatoes reach desired consistency.
The longer and slower you leave them the sweeter they become.
7. Serve steak atop potatoes, with asparagus, mushrooms and slow- roasted tomatoes on the side.
Drizzle or spoon bearnaise sauce over the steak and asparagus. As you eat the meal, the tomatoes will mix with the sauce creating the choron sauce - hence the deconstruction.
4 Tbsp spiced vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks (no white whatsoever)
1. Pour spiced vinegar into a pot or cup, add peppercorns and reduce liquid by half - either by boiling on the stove or in the microwave.
2. Add lemon juice to vinegar mixture and let cool to about body temperature (37C).
3. Pour reduced vinegar mixture and egg yolks into a jug that is wide enough to accommodate a stick blender or electric whisk.
4. Place butter in a jug or cup and microwave until boiling hot - it has to be bubbling.
5. With care, slowly pour the hot butter into the jug, all the while beating the mixture with a stick blender or electric whisk until the bearnaise sauce thickens.
6. Serve immediately if that is possible or keep warm until ready to pour or spoon over the steak and asparagus.
Taranaki Daily News