Thursday, 18 December 2014

Five Brisbane foodies share their Christmas ham plans

Nothing says Christmas more to me than a big leg of ham slowly roasting in the oven and the prospect of eating it for Christmas lunch.

Every year we work though the ham over a week or so of sandwiches, ham and egg breakfasts, and finally ham and egg quiche. I always save the ham bone, intending to make pea and ham soup, and throw it out around July when I clean the freezer.

I’m not alone when it comes to enjoying ham for Christmas.  Jerome Dalton, who heads up leading Brisbane caterer Dalton Hospitality, says he was planning on eating his own ham this year.

“I did plan on my own ham from our pigs but an unfortunate cool room breakdown ended that dream,” says Dalton.  "Each year we buy free range hams from Tillari Trotters who farm at Tamworth. These local hams are quite dry, unlike the poor quality imported ones. The only cruelty at our Christmas table is that I cook and then wash up!”

Jerome's Ham Glaze
1 litre of cloudy apple juice reduced to around 50 percent until it browns and thickens
brown sugar
star anise

Harold and Christine Fleming are known for the moreish fillings of the soft buns they sell around Brisbane from the Bun Mobile. Harold says they always have a Christmas ham on the bone.

"We source it from Gillys Smallgoods," says Fleming. "I have been a customer of theirs for many years. They supply all of our pork and smallgoods on the Bun Mobile and are located at Clontarf."

Harold says his ham glaze recipe is pretty simple, but very tasty:

Harold's Ham Glaze
2 tablespoons brown sugar 
2 tablespoons Blend Smoked Honey 
2 tablespoons grain mustard

Mix it all together and splatter it over a skinless, scored ham on the bone. Bake in hot over until golden brown and crispy.

Campos Coffee Queensland Director Eugene Phua says a Christmas without ham is no Christmas at all! He always shops local at Petersens' Quality Meats in New Farm, which has been serving the local community for over a century.

“The ham must be sliced thinly and served cold on this hot summer day accompanied by delicious plum sauce for that Asian influence from my cultural background,” Phua says.

Eugene Phua’s Christmas Ham Glaze

1 (about 6-8kg) whole leg ham, on the bone
 120g dulce sugar
 60ml maple syrup
 100ml plum sauce
 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Whole cloves, to stud

Step 1 Stir the sugar, maple syrup, plum sauce and mustard in a bowl until the sugar dissolves.
Step 2 Preheat oven to 170ÂșC. Line a large baking dish with 2 layers of non-stick baking paper. Place an oven shelf in the lowest position. Score the fat in a diamond pattern, about 5mm deep. Stud the centres of the diamonds with plenty of cloves.
Step 3 Brush one-third of the glaze over the ham. Bake, brushing with glaze every 15 minutes, for 1 hour 30 minutes.

Chef Dominique Rizzo who recently opened Putia Pure Food Kitchen/Pantry Cooking School at Banyo says she loves eating ham for Christmas.

“ I don’t tend to eat ham through the year, saving that beloved all time favourite flavour and tradition for Christmas,” says Rizzo.  “This year I am picking one up at my local butcher on Sandgate Road,  Ashcroft Meats. Ashcroft are a real traditional butcher with their own smokehouse and good old fashion service, where you order the ham and hope not to miss out.”

“Normally I would glaze the ham but this year I am going to serve it fresh with an assortment of mustards, relish and accompaniments.

Dom's Ham Glaze

1 jar of marmalade with the orange pieces
dijon mustard
a little orange juice and honey.

Stud the ham fat with cloves and then brush with the marmalade mix. Bake the ham while still basting with the mix and continue until the ham is golden brown.

“It turns out a gorgeous golden brown, sticky and scrumptious,” says Rizzo.

Ham is not optional for Michael Dalton who runs wholesale speciality food distributor Fino Food and Wine, based in Bulimba.

“ A ham is essential,” says Dalton.  “I get mine from Quattro Stelle, a Sydney based smallgoods producer.  It's a Duroc/Berkshire cross pig and gently smoked over apple and beechwood.  Controversially (in my family at least), I refuse to be bothered with a glaze.  I bake it on a low temperature to warm it through.”

Breaking with tradition, baking queen Judy Cook of Cakes by Judy C has decided not to have a ham.

“This is the first year we decided not to have ham,” says Cook. “We are having stuffed turkey breast as we had one from Billy’s Meats at Ashgrove last year and all the family decided it was the best ever so we are having the same this year. “It does have stuffing and we will be serving with gravy, cranberry sauce, potato bake, waldorf salad and green leaf salad.”

It will be followed by Judy’s family’s traditional pudding with custard and cream and tiramisu.

“My kids just love it,” she says.

Horst Schurger

5 tips on picking a great ham

Tips from Fleischmeister and master butcher, Horst Schurger
  1. Look for a natural meaty texture: avoid the wet or rubbery.
  2. Choose a ham with a good smoky flavour. Ask to taste it.
  3. Look for smooth, even skin and even colouring. If the knuckle is sunken, it’s overcooked. If the rind if buckled or uneven, it’s a sign of dryness.
  4. Hams 10-12kg are most likely to have the best flavour and texture due to age of the pig.
  5. For the best results, opt for fresh Australian pork rather than hams made in Australia from frozen imported meat.

Ham storage
  1. Dip your ham bag (linen tea towel) in a solution of 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Squeeze out excess moisture and place ham in the bag.
  2. Store in coolest part of fridge (below 4°C). Leg ham on the bone should last for up to 3 weeks.
  3. Rinse and re-dip your Ham Bag in water and vinegar solution every 3 days, or as needed.
Kerry Heaney

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Airline food – dining with Cathay Pacific

There’s eager anticipation flowing in the cabin as the flight attendant starts serving meals to the people in front. Time to straighten up your chair, pull down your tray and get ready to dine.

The arrival of a meal on a long haul flight can be a wonderful diversion from the fact that you’ve been sitting in the same seat for six hours and have more than six still to go. When it’s light and appetising, attractively presented and full of flavours the day suddenly seems so much better.

Flying from Brisbane to Hong Kong, on to London and back the same way gave me the opportunity to experience Cathay's economy and business class travel.   Of course business class was a much 'smoother' ride but economy was not too shabby either and the food on both exceeded my expectations.

While passengers only see their food travel a short distance down the aisle, there’s obviously a lot more behind the scenes action required. I had a chat with Cathay Pacific Manager Catering Services Aaron Claxton at Hong Kong's International Airport to find out more.

Cathay Pacific Manager Catering Services Aaron Claxton

Who creates Cathay's in-flight menus?

The Cathay Pacific Catering team has its own menu planning and concept design team of qualified chefs. They are responsible not only for the menu design and recipes, but liaise closely with our caterers around the network to ensure the best use of local ingredients is incorporated in to the dishes.

Each cabin class has a different proposition, for example the meal service within our First Class cabin is an A la Carte offering which can be provided at any time during the flight - a “dine on demand” concept.

The Business class in comparison is a more structured service but with dishes more akin to that offered in a high quality restaurant. Our philosophy is to provide a blend of Hong Kong Asian and International cuisines with a strong emphasis on lighter and healthier meals using produce derived from sustainable sources.

Which are the most popular dishes? 

Cathay has gained a reputation for exquisite authentic Chinese dishes and we have over 100 signature dishes on file which have been created over a period of years in collaboration with some of Hong Kong’s best known chefs and finest restaurants. Popular dishes are often those that also heat well in the air and those cooked in well-seasoned or spiced sauces, as the dulling effects on your taste receptors within pressurised cabins is now well known .

Which dishes are most commonly requested but can't be served?

One of the main complexities of in-flight dining is to provide a selection of meal options to suit most people’s tastes. This is extremely challenging but we do supplement the menu with a selection of special meals, 21 in total, which a passenger can reserve by booking in advance of the flight. These menu options are primarily available to accommodate those with specific dietary or religious preferences.

We do have some products that we do not offer, items that are restricted or perhaps protected species etc like - shark fin and we have a policy not to use Mono Sodium glutamates as we believe they maybe harmful.

How long does it take for a meal to get from the kitchen to the passenger?

In-flight meals are produced within extremely controlled environments and the process from production to delivery and service onboard is quite a complex process. Generally speaking meals are prepared on the day of flight departure and are assembled and placed into holding chillers +6 hrs prior to loading on the aircraft. These meals are then delivered to the aircraft just prior to passenger boarding and are kept in a chilled condition until the crews commence the in-flight services.

How did Cathay’s partnership with Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong come about?

During recent years Cathay Pacific has worked closely with Local Hong Kong based restaurants and hotels to promote and develop the Chinese signature dishes which are now an established favourite of many passengers.

Considering Cathay’s increasing global network, the thought of tapping into another International five star brand of Asian origin and with recognition for hospitality excellence was explored to support the development of onboard cuisine – thus talks began with the Mandarin Oriental hotel group.

What is the extent of the partnership and how long will it go for?

The partnership will concentrate on menu design exclusively served within our First class cabins and will feature foods from their Michelin starred restaurants within their properties around the world.

Dishes specially created by Dean Yasharian, Executive Chef of Bar Boulud, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London will run until 31 December 2014. During 2015 more Mandarin Oriental properties are planned to be featured covering properties from as far afield as North America, Europe and Asia.

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Cathay Pacific on their Brisbane to London via Hong Kong route.

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