#navbar-iframe { display: none; }

« Home | Ciccone & Sons Gelateria, Redfern » | Continental Deli Bar Bistro, Newtown » | Annapurna Nepalese Restaurant, Homebush » | Bennelong Restaurant, Sydney » | Doughnut Time at Central Park, Chippendale » | Rootstock Sydney 2015 » | Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Party 2015 » | Belles Hot Chicken at Barangaroo » | Pilu at Freshwater » | Via Napoli Pizzeria, Surry Hills »

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Beef tendon puffs, cuttlefish gnocchi and scarlet prawns: Stomachs Eleven Christmas dinner 2015

Puffed beef tendon and beef tripe

Friends. They're the people who make you laugh, are always ready to lend a hand, and - in my case in particular - never complain when you take a photo of their meal. In 2008, a motley group of my friends gathered for a home-cooked dinner. We had such fun we decided we'd take turns hosting dinners, calling ourselves Stomachs Eleven. The first dinner was at the home of Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin, and truth be told, over time we have consistently ended up eating there the most. Not only are they incredible homecooks, but they are always so welcoming and hospitable. They always volunteer to cook Christmas dinner, an event we all secretly look forward to every year.

Baby radishes with homemade bagna cauda
Baby radishes with homemade bagna cauda

We start with baby radishes and bagna cauda, the juicy crunch of vegetables acting as the perfect carriage for the salty anchovy hit, combined with lashings of butter.

Much of my attention is on the platter of beef tendon puffs and beef tripe puffs. I first had beef tendon puffs at Animal in LA and have been obsessed with them ever since. Making these is no easy effort, a convoluted process that involves slow cooking, slicing, dehydrating and then deep frying. The beef tripe puffs have no offal taste at all. The beef tendon puffs are like the beef version of pork scratchings.

Homemade sourdough bread
Homemade sourdough by J-boy 

J-boy has brought along his amazing homemade sourdough which Pig Flyin serves with his homemade kefir butter, virgin butter and chicken jus butter - inspired by Automata of course.

Homegrown cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes from the Pigflyin garden

This year's table centrepiece is both decorative and functional - hanging cherry tomato vines that we plunder throughout the evening as we please.

Homemade kingfish pastrami and apple slaw
Homemade kingfish pastrami and apple slaw

Homemade kingfish pastrami was made using a Mark Best recipe I passed on after attending his class at the Sydney Seafood School. It's amazing how the kingfish transforms after curing, and Pig Flyin's combination with apple slaw works so well.

Hakurei turnip sandwiches with homemade mullet roe and homegrown shiso leaves
Hakurei turnip "sandwich" with homemade mullet roe and homegrown shiso leaves

These Hakurei turnip sandwiches looked just like the ubiquitous bao at first glance. Instead we are rewarded with crunchy turnip slices paired with salty batons of homemade mullet roe against aromatic shiso leaves.

Monaka wafer shells
Monaka wafer shells 

Filling the monaka shells with foie gras, cucumber narazuke and Amarena cherries
Filling the monaka shells with foie gras, cucumber narazuke and Amarena cherries

Monaka wafers are usually used to hold sweet red bean fillings in Japan. Instead Pig Flyin directed sous chef silvrlily to sandwich these with foie gras, cucumber narazuke and Amarena cherries.

Monaka shells with foie gras, cucumber narazuke and Amarena cherries
Foie gras wafers

Those luscious chunks of foie gras were incredible, enhanced by the sweetness of those Amarena cherries.

Veal heart tartare on homemade linseed crackers
Veal heart tartare on homemade linseed crackers

Veal heart tartare (sourced from Feather and Bone) is surprisingly spicy, dressed with fermented chilli sauce, pickled fennel and fried capers. The homemade linseed crackers added a delicate crunch, and chive and parsley flowers were ever so pretty.

And in among all this, we had options of juice pairings which I neglected to photograph. This year's juices all included tea infusions which Pig Flyin says helps pare back the sweetness and "brings a subtle but complex profile with tannins". The snacks are paired with a bright green juice made from snow peas, cucumber, cos lettuce and bergamot. They used a cold press juicer - you could really taste the snow peas!

Fresh milk curd
Fresh soft curd

In our first savoury course, Pig Flyin made his own fresh soft curd using milk and vegetarian rennet. It looks just like tofu fah, the sweet tofu dessert you get at yum cha.

Homemade milk curd with oxalis and tarragon oil
Homemade soft curd with oca and tarragon oil

I love this dish much more than I thought I would, the curds reminding me of junket. It tastes like an unsweetened soft milk pudding, made savoury here with tarragon oil and oxalis, pleasantly sour leaves that taste similar to sorrel.

Homegrown cherry tomatoes in the kitchen
Homegrown cherry tomatoes in the kitchen

Pancetta slices
Pancetta slices

All the action happens in the kitchen of course. It's no surprise that I usually nab the seat nearest to the kitchen for behind-the-scene photos.

Blowtorching the pancetta
Blowtorching the pancetta

Char grilled fresh peas, homemade buttermilk and pancetta
Char grilled fresh peas, homemade buttermilk and pancetta

All too often, dishes are more complex than they seem. When we comment on the smokiness of the peas, we found out they were chargrilled in their pods over charcoal before podding. The fresh peas are smoky and juicy, draped with a blowtorched blanket of fatty pancetta. There's a comforting coolness from the puddle of homemade buttermilk and then accents of zing from the tarragon oil.

Pig Flyin bought his peas from farmer Phil Lavers who runs the organically certified Moonacre Farm in Fitzroy Falls in the Southern Highlands.

Steamed cuttlefish bundles
Steamed cuttlefish bundles

Adding fresh squid ink to each plate
Adding fresh squid ink to each plate

Cuttlefish gnocchi with squid ink and prawn oil
Cuttlefish gnocchi with squid ink and prawn oil

Cuttlefish gnocchi hold little bundles of sweet prawn, surrounded by prawn oil and fresh squid ink. Everyone ends up getting black stained lips and tongues after eating this dish but it's worth it. The squid is so tender, steamed at 65C.

The three courses of fresh soft curd, sweet peas with pancetta and cuttlefish gnocchi are paired with a jasmine tea and pink lady juice. The Mariage Freres jasmine white tea tea was cold infused in a concentrated form and then combined with cold pressed pink lady juice. This is such a refreshing drink, the gentle tartness of pink lady perfumed with heady scent of jasmine.

Grilling scarlet prawns over charcoal
Grilling scarlet prawns over charcoal

Charcoal grilled scarlet prawns with seaweed flakes
Charcoal grilled scarlet prawns with seaweed flakes

We can smell the scarlet prawns as soon as they hit the, er, charcoal barbie. Scarlet prawns are a rare treat, especially the prawn heads which are packed with meaty brains. Of course we eat them clean! The addition of seaweed flakes enhances their briney sweetness.

Finishing the slow-roasted muscovy duck over charcoal
Finishing the slow-roasted muscovy duck over charcoal


Chargrilled gem lettuce hearts
Chargrilled gem lettuce hearts

Roasted muscovy duck with chargrilled gem lettuce hearts and grilled blackberries
Roasted Muscovy duck with chargrilled gem lettuce hearts and grilled blackberries

Our final savoury course is roast duck, a late winter Muscovy from Burrawong Gaian. The duck legs were removed, deboned, rolled and cooked separately. Grilled blackberries add just the right amount of tart sweetness, and I relish the gem lettuce hearts, chargrilled and then braised in duck jus.

The final savoury courses are paired with a Mariage Freres Grand Cru darjeeling and rhubarb juice, almost reminiscent of wine with its savoury notes.

Chocolate crepe cake with chestnut mousse and a chocolate mirror glaze
Chocolate crepe cake with chestnut mousse and a chocolate mirror glaze

Dessert is a show stopper. All conversation halts once we spy the chocolate crepe cake emerging from the kitchen. Mrs Pig Flyin had dutifully made 21 chocolate crepes which Pig Flyin then assembled with layers of chestnut mousse spiked with dark rum. The mirror glaze has such an incredible sheen, and it's not overly sweet either.

Chocolate crepe cake with chestnut mousse and a chocolate mirror glaze
21 layers of crepe

And now it's Christmas Eve and the year has almost come to an end! I hope you all have a terrific break, wherever you are, and whoever you're with. On Christmas Day, I'll be having a much less fancy lunch with family that will involve oysters, prawns and the classic Aussie pav. What will you be eating?

Have a wonderful Christmas, everyone!


Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven Christmas - 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

13 comments - Add some comment love

Bookmark and Share
posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/24/2015 02:38:00 am


13 Comments:

  • At 12/24/2015 11:59 am, Blogger From Across the Kitchen Table said…

    Omg! You guys cook like chefs. They all look so amazing!

     
  • At 12/24/2015 12:12 pm, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Helen, please let Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin know we all look forward to read your annual Christmas dinner posts. They're so talented! Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year!

     
  • At 12/24/2015 2:10 pm, Anonymous Padaek said…

    Amazing! Everything looks so enticing. It just gets better every year. That duck looks divine. Merry Christmas!

     
  • At 12/24/2015 8:18 pm, Anonymous Napoli Restaurant Alert said…

    I remember your previous Stomachs Eleven posts - always staggering. What friends! Why aren't they on Masterchef or MKR, they'd blow everyone away! Merry Christmas Helen.

     
  • At 12/27/2015 4:19 am, Anonymous Alida @mylittleitaliankitchen said…

    So much fab food on your site! I particularly love the duck and I feel so hungry now!

     
  • At 12/27/2015 7:43 am, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    What a lovely idea and what a menu - nothing pedestrian about it at all. And the dishes were so beautifully presented. I have to agree that the dessert is an absolute show-stopper. I hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas xx

     
  • At 12/29/2015 12:32 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    oh man those prawns look and sound amaaazing!

     
  • At 12/29/2015 3:58 pm, Blogger Jacq said…

    I love reading your Stomachs Eleven posts! Hope you had a great Christmas, Helen!

     
  • At 12/30/2015 10:31 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Stomachs Eleven spreads by Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin are always next level! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Helen!

     
  • At 1/01/2016 1:56 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    I love your Stomachs Eleven posts! This meal looks out of this world!!!

    xox Sarah

     
  • At 1/20/2016 9:41 pm, Blogger irene said…

    And every year I secretly wait for these Stomach Eleven posts!

     
  • At 1/21/2016 8:11 pm, Blogger jonathan_pui said…

    the most amazing meal every year.. so honored each time.

     
  • At 1/27/2016 11:16 pm, Anonymous Sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    I love all your posts, but I especially look forward to the stomach ones. I drool over ever course and am inspired. I would love to see a behind the scenes post one day. As the amount of work that goes into these dinners that Mr & Mrs FP do would be incredible. Let alone the thought process leading up to the prep work!

     

Post a Comment

<< Home


      << Read Older Posts       |       >> Read Newer Posts