zucchini, halloumi, tomato, and healthy grain salad

image by sven kovac - courtesy lightsview

(february 2014)

This recipe is a great way to use up a big summer harvest of zucchini and heirloom tomatoes! Get them sown in spring for a summer crop.

zucchini, halloumi, tomato and healthy grain salad

serves 4 as an entree or as a side with a main meal

½ cup dirt(y) royal baby blue lentils*

¼ cup quinoa seeds (not flakes), soaked for 30 mins then rinsed till water runs clear

¼ cup amaranth* (optional)

8 zucchini flowers

1 each green and yellow zucchini, cut into long strips or ‘ribbons’ (use a mandolin for ease)

2 cups assorted heirloom tomatoes, chopped any old how

½ bunch parsley, randomly picked and chopped

½ bunch basil

2 lemons, zested and juiced

250 g halloumi cheese

120 ml extra virgin olive oil

salt flakes and cracked pepper


Cook lentils according to box instructions, after 15 mins add quinoa and cook for further 15, until quinoa has broken down a little and most of the water has been absorbed. Drain, season and set aside.

Heat up a grill plate or heavy pan, grill the halloumi on both sides till ‘smokey’ and coloured. Remove and rip into bite size pieces when cool.

Lightly oil and season the zucchini strips, then grill until coloured.

Use remaining olive oil to prepare a dressing by adding lemon juice and a big pinch of salt and cracked pepper.

If using amaranth, pre-heat a large heavy based pan over medium to high heat for a few minutes. Chuck the amaranth in to ‘roast’ with lid on and shake vigorously (so it doesn’t burn) for a couple of minutes as it pops. It’s a popper (like popcorn) so don’t take the lid off. Remove from heat and tip into a bowl when it has all popped and doubled in size.

Get the baby blues and quinoa on a plate, dress with half the dressing, top with zucchini ribbons, tomato and halloumi. Separate a few random petals of zucchini flowers and scatter over. Drizzle remaining dressing, sprinkle with popped amaranth, more salt flakes, pepper, parsley, basil and lemon zest.


*amaranth is available at health food stores or in the health food aisle good supermarkets

* the dirt(y) royal baby blue French-style green lentils could be substituted for another variety of small unhulled (skin-on) lentils; just adjust the cooking time as required


asparagus and black garlic with quinoa and nipper sprouts

asparagus and black garlic with quinoa and nipper sprouts

(december 2013)

This spring salad is bursting with flavour and will make use of those nasturtium flowers that pop up all over the place at this time of year. Black garlic is worth hunting for – it’s becoming easier to find in specialty greengrocers and even one of the big supermarkets is giving it a go. Although I don’t recommend substituting it for this, someone at a recent cooking demo likened the taste of it to Marmite! The black garlic certainly adds a distinct “meaty” flavour to this salad.

asparagus and black garlic with quinoa and nipper sprouts

serves 4 as an entree or a side

⅔ cup red quinoa seeds

salt flakes and cracked black pepper

100 ml extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp verjuice

¼ tsp ground fennel

3 cloves black garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup dirt(y) inc red nipper lentil sprouts*

2 bunches asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds

dozen or so nasturtium flowers

handful dill sprigs


*Get sprouting a few days ahead – see instructions on how to sprout at the dirt(y) inc website.

Rinse the quinoa under cold running water for a minute or two, then drain. Throw the quinoa along with 1 tsp salt and 2 cups of water in a heavy-based pan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Stir then cover with a lid and drop to a low heat. Cook for 12-15 mins or until most of the water is absorbed, the quinoa is tender to bite and a few have popped open.

Make a dressing with 4 tbsp olive oil, the verjuice, fennel and garlic. Mix lentil sprouts in with quinoa then gently fold the dressing through.

Pre heat a grill plate over medium heat. Use the remaining olive oil to rub over asparagus and season. Grill for 2 mins on each side, or until asparagus blisters a little.

Place the quinoa and lentil sprouts onto a large platter (or individual plates), lay the asparagus on top. Scatter with nasturtium flowers and dill. Drizzle over a little olive oil and some cracked black pepper.

prawn and whiting pithivier

prawn and whiting pithivier

(december 2013)

SARDI – South Australian Research and Development Institute held an Aquatic Sciences Open Day on 17 November 2013. The free Open Day, called “Healthy Waters, Healthy Fish,” gave SARDI an opportunity to illustrate the important role their researchers play in helping to get tasty, sustainable and nutritious South Australian seafood out of the ocean and onto our plates; and to inspire people to include more seafood in their diets. For my part, I just had to get a few prawns, whiting and sardines into some tasting serves! Here’s the recipe for my prawn and whiting pithivier.

prawn and whiting pithivier

serves 6 (as a main)

prawn stock

prawn shells, feet and heads (from prawns used for the filling)

1 carrot

2 tomatoes

1 small onion

1 stick celery

1 baby fennel bulb

3 cloves garlic

pinch paprika

a few black pepper corns

pinch saffron threads, soaked in water

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 cups fish stock or water

½ cup verjuice or white wine

1 bay leaf

stems from tarragon or chervil (leftover from the filling – see below)

stems from parsley (leftover from the sauce - see below)



100 ml cream

60 g butter, cubed

squeeze lemon

sea salt

handful chopped parsley leaves

Roast the prawn heads and shells with a touch of salt and oil.

Chop all the vegetables, and sauté over medium heat in butter for a few minutes, add spices and cook until well coloured (10 or so mins). Deglaze with verjuice or wine add bay leaf, herbs and stock and roasted prawn shells. Simmer for 45 mins, take off heat, get a stick blender to blitz and then pass through a fine strainer.  Reduce this liquid over a medium heat, by ⅔ and until thick.  Add cream and reduce by half, take off heat and check seasoning.



300 g MSC certified U/10 green Spencer Gulf Prawns

150 g King George whiting fillet (skinned and chopped in half)

2 free range egg whites

2 shallots, very finely diced

sea salt and white pepper

220 g cream

a few sprigs of tarragon or chervil , leaves picked and chopped (reserve stems for stock)

Clean the prawns (reserve heads, shells, and tails for stock – see above). Place the prawn meat, fish, egg white, salt, pepper  and shallot in food processor. Blend until smooth then add cream to achieve mousse like texture. Fold herbs  through then place in fridge.



750 g Carême puff pastry cut into 12 discs, 9cm wide (Or make your own rough puff! *)

yolks from egg (above)

30 ml milk

pinch salt

Lay 6 discs out on a bench and brush outside edge (about 1 cm ) with a little water using a pastry brush.

Place ⅙ of the mix onto each puff pastry disc, seal with the remaining 6 lids and crimp edges. Poke a hole in the top, score curves from centre top to crimped edge of pie using a sharp knife but don’t cut through the pastry, just etch it. Place in fridge for 30 mins to an hour to seize the dough.

Pre heat an oven to 220°C fan forced, wash with egg and milk and salt mix using a pastry brush then cook 20 to 25 mins until pastry and filling are cooked, and pies are golden brown and well puffed.

When ready to serve put sauce back on heat to warm slightly, then whisk in butter cubes to thicken (do this at about 60°C - hot enough to melt butter but not so hot that the sauce will split).  Pour sauce over pies and garnish with a little chopped parsley.

Serve with a leaf salad; shaved fennel, asparagus and cucumber all work nicely in a salad with this dish.


* rough puff

300 g plain flour

300 g chilled unsalted butter cubed into 1 cm squares

a large pinch salt (two-thirds of a teaspoon)

150 ml really cold water

Place flour on bench and make a well. Cut butter into flour using a pastry card. Pour water over.

Gather together (don't knead it, just pull it into a lump). Dust bench and roll into a rectangle about 1 cm or so thick. Book (into thirds), turn a quarter, then re-roll into 3 times the size; book into thirds, turn a quarter and book again. (In other words, book into thirds three times, with a quarter turn each time). Pin down to 6 mm thick and cut into 30 pieces. 

Layer up on baking paper then seize in freezer for 20 mins. Remove and cut into discs for pithiviers.


salt baked sardines with gribiche

salt baked sardines with gribiche

(december 2013)

Formerly known as pilchards (and we were stupid enough to use them as bait) - the mighty sardine!!
They punch well above their weight for flavour and won't burn a hole in your pocket AND they’re a sustainable, renewable well managed resource from our own west coast, it’s a win all round. Here’s the recipe for salt baked sardines with gribiche, from my cooking demo at the SARDI Open Day.

salt baked sardines with gribiche

serves 6 as an entree

baked fish

18 to 24 Port Lincoln wild Australian sardines (i.e. 2 or 3 per person)

2 kg rock salt

7 egg whites

bunch rosemary



2 shallot, finely diced

60 ml verjuice

2 medium boiled eggs (i.e. 4 min and refreshed in ice water)

40 ml dijon mustard

salt flakes

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup grapeseed oil

1 cup mixture of tarragon, dill, chervil and parsley, chopped rough

1 tbsp Australian capers, rinsed and chopped

2 tbsp cornichons, chopped and drained

juice of half a lemon


Trim fins (scale and gut sardine if this has not been done) then place belly down on board and lift head up to break but do not detach. Run your thumb down spine to dislocate vertebrae.

Flip fish over and gently prize spine away from meat from inside the fish cavity, discard.

Make “a slurry” with salt and egg white. Lay half the slurry on large baking tray, line up the fish in rows leaving a little gap between fishes, chuck a few peppercorns and sprigs of rosemary willy-nilly in the salt mix (it will impart a nice aroma into the fish as it bakes). Smear the remaining slurry over each fish body snuggly to bury; (heads and tails can stick out, you’re not eating these and they look nice peeking out).

Bake at 190°C fan forced for 15-odd mins until the salt colours and goes rock hard; (if it isn’t firm give it another few minutes). Set aside and allow to cool.

Meanwhile make gribiche...Peel the eggs, mix the yolks with the mustard and verjuice and mash into a fine paste. Drizzle oils in and proceed like a mayonnaise (i.e. slow and with caution, whisking constantly). Once thick and creamy, fold in herbs, chopped cornichon and capers, lemon juice and a tablespoon of hot water (this stabilizes the mayo); season with salt. Chop the egg white (or push through sieve) and fold in.

Break the crust on the baked fish and allow everyone to lift sardines out, the skin should (mostly) stick to the salt crust and the heads and tails will pop off easily. Gently brush away excess salt and eat with gribiche and good crusty bread.

poppy seed, pumpkin and lemon pasta

poppy seed, pumpkin and lemon pasta

(december 2013)

I whipped up this dish at the Royal Adelaide Show (2013) with some little helpers at the IGA Kids’ Cook Up. I reckon this one will be a winner for the small people in your life as they will love getting their hands into the pappardelle dough and eating the pumpkin “fettuccini” strips.

poppy seed, pumpkin and lemon pasta

serves 6 small people

dough for pappardelle

300 g 00 flour

200 ml water


15 ml extra virgin olive oil

50 g fine semolina


poppy sauce

100 g butter

one loosely packed cup “kind of fettuccine shaped pumpkin strips” (i.e. use a vegie peeler to make "ribbons”)

10 g sugar

80 g poppy seeds

60 g parmesan

squeeze of lemon


Combine flour and semolina in a bowl, make a well in the centre and add olive oil, salt and enough water to just bring it together (it should still be dry and crumbly). Turn out on to the bench and knead for 5 to 10 mins to make a firm dough, only adding more water if it’s still crumbly. Rest the dough.

Roll dough into sheets on pasta machine; rest another 20 mins on a slippery surface (baking paper or floured bench, to help the dough spring back). Cut into 30 x 2cm strips. Cook 2 mins in HEAVILY salted water drain and toss into sauce (below).

To get the poppy sauce started, fizz up butter in a pan, add pumpkin strips and sauté until soft (4-odd mins). Add sugar and poppy seeds, then toss into hot pasta and finish with parmesan, a squeeze of lemon and a little salt.

yabby gazpacho

yabby gazpacho

(march 2013)

Yabbies always bring back fond childhood memories for me. They are a delicious alternative to the other traditional and iconic "chuck 'em on the barbie" favourite (the prawn). Whilst this recipe isn't just about chucking a yabby on the barbie, they are certainly the heroes of the dish!

yabby gazpacho

serves 4 as an entree

12 big or 24 small yabbies
2 slices ciabatta bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons aged sweet red wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon sugar
2 kg "cooking tomatoes"
1 red capsicum
1 Lebanese cucumber, seeded and chopped; plus extra finely chopped as a garnish
½ long red chilli, seeded
¼ cup olive oil
3 spring onions, chopped
salt flakes and cracked black pepper
a few sprigs tarragon

On a pre-heated chargrill plate blacken up all sides of the capsicum, when mushy chuck in a bowl and cover with cling wrap and leave for 10 mins; to ease the skin membrane off.

Peel the skin off, scoop seeds out and roughly chop, set aside

Blitz up the tomatoes in a food processor and roughly strain to catch most of the seeds and then pop the tomato juice back in the blender. Add capsicum and all other ingredients (except yabbies and tarragon), then blend, check seasoning and chill for 30 mins (minimum).

Be nice to your yabbies! ....get them in the freezer for an hour to make them sleepy. Meanwhile get a BIG pot of salted water to a rapid boil (a small pot just won’t cut it, when the chilled yabbies hit the water the temperature drop will inhibit a quick dispatch; you want the little guys to not know what hit them). Plunge yabbies in water for 20 seconds and then into ice water. Allow to cool, drain and place on the chargrill for a couple of minutes. When cool peel and de-poop the tails and set aside; (save heads and shells to make a bisque another day).

Pop the soup into chilled bowls add 3 big (or 6 small) yabbies per serve, garnish with a little splash of extra virgin olive oil, cracked black pepper, a little of the finely chopped cucumber and tarragon.

rattle some pots and pans

"my equipment is so's black and white" (photo by asbCreative)

(september 2012)

A few people have asked what I reckon are worthwhile equipment musts for a good cooker, but you might be surprised that there is very little shiny stuff in my kitchen.....

Okay forget all the kitchen toyshops and gadgets, grab a wad of cash and buy a top quality 20 to 24cm chef's knife (small people 20 cm, big people 24 cm). Be prepared to spend around $200, but this is a kitchen must and will be your friend for life. If you have a boy with you, he will try to make you buy a 26cm-plus knife. Just roll your eyes and tell him he's either over compensating or dreaming, honestly this is an axe - not a knife, you need to be able to control it with nimble swift moves so small is better!

You will use this knife for cleaving (with the heel), deft slicing (with the tip) and the middle to nearly the tip for chopping. The blade will crush garlic and this is now your number one tool. Buy an old fashioned sharpening steel for honing, not a diamond one; they fail to align the ions for extra blade edge longevity and are too aggressive on the edge unless you really know what you are doing. Learn how to re-edge your knife on a stone approximately a 30 degree angle or find a good sharpening service.

Invest in a ton of tea towels, a good food processor, a stab (stick) mixer, a mouli ("ricer") for pureeing food, a thermometer, a pile of varying sized steel bowls, good quality baking trays, a spider for fishing stuff out of blanching pots and oil, a good colander, a slotted spoon, ladles, a decent rolling pin, a nice springy flexible whisk, a Microplane as well as a good old fashioned grater, a grill scraper and a wooden spoon. These are the most used items in commercial kitchens so I am calling them kitchen musts.

Don't waste your money on flashy looking shiny pans (unless you can afford Mauviel pans which are sexy and brilliant to cook in: if you can afford these you probably have "domestic servants" and live in a castle and don't even know where your kitchen is so you probably won't be reading this page anyway). Get a couple of heavy based black/blue steel or stainless fry pans with a really heavy thick base (it's all about heat retention through thermal mass). If you look after them once they are seasoned they will never stick and last for ever.

Buy a sauteuse pan or two in varying sizes (steep sides with a 45 degree angle), used for rapid frying which enables you to sauté (quite literally "jump") the food with a flick of your wrist. This enables you to cook swiftly on full flame without burning the food sitting in the pan, as much like woking, you control temperature by the amount of times you lift the pan and flick.

Pots, similarly you need a decent thick "sandwich" on the base and a few sizes, a 1, 2 and 5 litre. Good grade stainless is the best value for money. Just because it's polished it doesn't mean it will work any better, but it will cost more. So buy according to weight and grade of steel, not shininess!

The best place to go for all these pots and pans is a professional hospitality supplies store. Don't feel intimidated, they are open to the public and you will be amazed at the quality of the product for the price. Be warned that half the stuff will look like it belongs in a military installation but the emphasis is usability and longevity rather than style, and once you have cooked with good commercial gear you will never buy domestic cookware again.

Cast iron and the old enamel coated Dutch oven style pots are a really worthwhile investment for long, even cooking - put one on your Christmas list.

Get a big chopping board, you need the real estate when preparing food. Wood is good as it doesn't trap grease in the cracks and allow bacteria to harbour if allowed to air dry properly. Plastic boards do, so if you have plastic chuck in a bit of hot water and bleach periodically.

I don't mind plastic boards but go for a slightly softer material, the hard boards "tire" your wrists with knife jar if you chop a lot as they have no "give" when the knife comes down. Softer boards also prevent knife "skate" (when the knife flies sideways under excess pressure because it can't bite into the board) - can be nasty!

A black steel wok is a great investment for under $20. Burn off the machining oil over a high heat. Cure it (open the pores in the steel by heating and then adding cooking oil and cooling); don't use soapy water for cleaning just water and a brush; then always reheat the wok after cleaning and re-oil.

You will never be able to stir fry big quantities in a wok on a domestic flame. Buying a bigger wok won't help either, just do one or two serves at a time in a small wok and aim for speed not volume and the result will be better, with the food more fried and less "stewed".

If you are renovating your kitchen and love stir frying get a minimum 22Mj (amount of gas flow) burner - life will be better for you and your wok. Alternatively go and buy a big wok burner (aka Rambo burner) and a gas bottle from the Asian grocer and you will be able to toss a wok like a pro with flames licking everywhere. It truly is the most fun you can have with clothes on!

Grab a couple of wooden bamboo steamer baskets as well, you can pop them on top of your wok (or a big pot) and the gentle method of steam cooking is a must to master for delicate ingredients.

So even if you don't have the cash for my recommendations, don't let it stop you from cooking, there's always a way to wing it!

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chicken biryani

cooking demo at willunga farmers market (photo courtesy wfm)

(april 2012)

Thanks to Wilunga Farmers Market stall holders for the produce a few weeks ago for the autumn cook up at the market. Here's the recipe with Inman Valley chooks; B.-d. Paris Creek products; Fleurieu Milk Company cream; Hardings Fine Foods products; Beach Organics spices; Herbivorous herbs; Hillside Herbs chili; and Clear Hills garlic just to mention a few.....

chicken biryani 

serves army.......(about 8)

200 ml Hardings peanut oil
100 g B.-d. Farm Paris Creek butter chopped into 1cm knobs.
2.2 kg Inman Valley chook
250 ml Fleurieu cream
60 g Hardings ginger
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Beach Organics fleur de sel salt
3 Beach Organics cardamon pods bruised
2 Beach Organics cinnamon quills
5 Beach Organics cloves
1 tablespoon Hardings curry powder
250 g thick B.-d. Farm Paris Creek yogurt
½ bunch Herbivorous mint, leaves picked and ripped
few saffron strands
2 cups basmati rice
1 cup Four Leaf Milling 85% light flour mixed with a little water to make a "dough lid" for cooking

Bone out chook and dice meat into 1 inch chunks. Put bones in pot with about a litre of cold water on medium heat for a "10 min stock", to yield 900 ml.

Meanwhile par-cook rice in plenty of salted water, strain after about 7 mins.

In a fry pan over a medium heat sauté onion and garlic in peanut oil, add cardamon, cinnamon, clove and curry powder. Add chook and sauté to cover in spices. Add yogurt and sea salt, cook out until dry. Add stock and simmer till chook just cooked. Strain, set stock and meat aside separately.

In a casserole or claypot layer up half the spiced chook-mix, half the separated stock, mint, half the cream, half the chopped butter, half the rice and season with sea salt. Repeat layer process with remaining half of ingredients. Add soaked saffron ....finishing with a layer of rice.

To make the dough lid blend flour with a pinch of salt and about 100 ml of lukewarm water. Squish together for a minute or so. Place the dough on a floured benchtop and roll into a round the same diameter as the casserole or claypot you've used to layer the chicken and rice in.

Seal the dish with the dough lid and bake 15mins 180°C. When cooked, bust through crust and serve.

outback pride warrigal and saltbush tart with b.-d. farm paris creek fetta

outback pride warrigal and saltbush tart with b.-d. farm paris creek fetta

(march 2012)

Outback Pride have a new range of fresh retail product ( that means home shoppers can get the good stuff that chefs have been getting for years) including warrigal, sea parsley and saltbush in 100 g packs, they are available at the Organic & Sustainable Market. Here's the recipe from the March market cook off. Thanks to the Teka people (as always) for supplying the oven and cooktop for my demo at one of my favourite markets.

outback pride warrigal and saltbush tart with b.-d. farm paris creek fetta

short pastry (to fit 25 cm tart tin)
280 g Four Leaf Milling Organic 85% Light Flour, plus a little extra for dusting
½ teaspoon table salt
180 g chilled B.-d. Farm Paris Creek butter, diced into 1 cm cubes and then allowed to come up to room temp
80 to 100 ml cold soda water
200 g baking beans

1 big leek, white part roughly sliced
20 g B.d Farm Paris Creek butter
30 ml organic extra virgin olive oil
3 medium-sized Scarfo Organics waxy potatoes, unpeeled, thinly sliced
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
1 fresh bay leaf
2 tablespoons cold water
sea salt and cracked black pepper
200 ml B.-d. Farm Paris Creek cream
30 g B.-d. Farm Paris Creek cheddar, grated
3 organic free range eggs
200 g B.-d.Farm Paris Creek fetta, cubed
2 cups lightly packed each Outback Pride warrigal greens and saltbush leaves
6 sprigs Outback Pride sea parsley, picked and finely chopped

To make the pastry, pop the flour into a large bowl, then add the salt and mix through. Rub in the butter cubes using your fingertips. When combined add the soda water and bring the dough together with the absolute minimum of mixing, again trying to only use your finger tips to avoid the heat in your hands affecting the dough. The dough should be a little crumbly still and definitely not one cohesive mass. A few visible lumps of butter here and there are not a major issue and will actually make it flakier and nicer. Very roughly gather the dough into a ball.

Lightly sprinkle your bench top with flour and roll out the dough into a circle about 33 cm in diameter by pinning from the centre out in all directions. (This will give you an extra 1.5 cm overhang on a 25 cm tart tin to allow for shrinkage when baking.) Grease a 25 cm tart tin and pop the dough in. Leave in the fridge for 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C fan forced. Line the tart shell with baking paper and add at least a cup (200 g) of baking beans. Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes until it is firm to the touch. Remove the baking beans and paper and return the tart shell to the oven for a couple more minutes to crisp and colour. Leave the tart shell in the tin and set it aside.

Reduce oven temp to 180°C.

Meanwhile, for the filling, melt the butter and oil in a heavy-based medium-sized frying pan with a lid over medium heat. Add the leek and sauté for a few minutes until softened, then add the potatoes, thyme, bay leaf and water. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and a good few twists of pepper (although I often omit the salt if the fetta is heavily brined to prevent the dish becoming a little over-seasoned). Reduce the heat to low and pop a lid on the pan. Cook the filling mixture for about 10 minutes, turning the potatoes a few times, until they are just tender to the touch. (They will cook a tiny bit more in the baking of the tart but they do need to be virtually ready to eat at this stage.) Remove the bay leaf and set the pan aside.

In a hot pan with a smidge of oil, sauté the warrigal greens and saltbush until wilted and add to the potato mixture

Mix the cream, cheddar and eggs together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the leek and potato mixture into the tart shell. Pour over the egg mix and drop cubes of fetta over the top and sprinkle with crumbled cheddar.

Bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes until just set. Insert a skewer into the tart - a little goo on the skewer is okay as the tart will continue setting when it is removed from the oven. However, the mixture should definitely not wobble when you shake the tin. The tart top should also have patches that are coloured up nicely.

Serve the tart hot or cold with a simple leaf salad.

rolled lamb neck with almond and rosemary, braised dirt(y) kangaroo island red nugget lentils with smoked eggplant

rolled lamb neck with almond and rosemary, braised dirt(y) kangaroo island red nugget lentils with smoked eggplant

(february 2012)

I was recently down at The Parade Food, Wine and Music Festival, which was a great day with a excellent blend of food, wine and local entertainment. Thanks to Norwood Foodland who kindly supplied all the boutique and local artisan produce for my demo of the rolled lamb neck with the braised dirt(y) Kangaroo Island Pure Grain red nugget lentils. Here's the recipe...

rolled lamb neck with almond and rosemary, braised dirt(y) kangaroo island red nugget lentils with smoked eggplant

serves 6 to 8

1 bone-out Spanish lamb neck, approx 1.2 kg (or forequarter/shoulder bone-out, i.e. a "lamb roast" of any type will do)
1 teaspoon Murray River salt flakes
lots of cracked black pepper
juice of half a lemon
30 ml Australian extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt
60 g Australian whole, skin-on almonds, toasted for 10 mins in 180°C oven
8 sprigs rosemary
3 cloves peeled Australian garlic
¼ bunch parsley, leaves and stems
½ cup pitted green Coriole olives
2 white anchovy
25 ml Coriole or Maggie Beer extra virgin olive oil

Preheat a fan forced oven to 140°C.

Trim lamb neck and lay out flat, skin side down. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt.

Blend almonds, rosemary, garlic, parsley, olives, anchovy and olive oil in a food processor, to a chunky paste. Smear paste on lamb neck and roll up. Truss with butchers net/string. Season the outside and place in oven for 3 to 3 and ½ hours.

Remove and place in a preheated heavy based pan over a medium heat. Season with remaining sea salt and cracked pepper and sear all sides to render lamb skin and fat. Remove and rest 20 mins. Carve and drizzle with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.

200 g dirt(y) Kangaroo Island red nugget lentils
1 litre Maggie Beer vegie stock
1 tablespoon Murray River salt flakes
1 bay leaf
2 Swiss brown mushroom, diced small
1 carrot, diced small
1 leek, diced small
1 stick celery, diced small
2 shallot, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small bulb fennel, diced small
100 g Hindmarsh Valley Dairy demi sel (lightly salted) butter
3 sprigs thyme
¼ bunch parsley leaves, chopped

Place lentils, bay leaf and salt in stock and bring up to gentle simmer. Cook over a medium flame for about 1 hour ¼ hours until tender.

Meanwhile in a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat sauté the shallot, garlic, celery, leek, fennel, carrot and mushroom in the butter until soft. Remove from heat and add finely chopped thyme and parsley. Add to cooked lentils.

2 medium eggplant
100 g B.-d. Paris Creek or Hindmarsh Valley Dairy yogurt
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon sea salt
pinch smoked paprika
3 tablespoons unhulled (dark) tahini
drizzle extra virgin olive oil

Grill the eggplant over a flame or on a hot plate until blackened and soft, place in bowl with cling wrap on top to sweat skin off for 10 mins.

Scoop out eggplant flesh and blend in processor with lemon juice, yogurt, tahini and salt.

Place lentils on plate, with a slice of lamb, dollop of eggplant, a sprinkle of tahini, and finally a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

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msc certified coorong wild seafood mulloway steamed dumplings

msc coorong wild seafood dumpling

(february 2012)

Coorong Wild Seafood MSC certified Mulloway is too good to waste so if you have some fish trim, here's a recipe to use it all up, dumplings!

msc coorong wild seafood dumpling

makes about a dozen

200 g Coorong Wild Seafood mulloway pieces, skin off
pinch sea salt
1 free range egg white
big pinch coarsely pounded fresh white peppercorn
50 ml Chinese light soy
pinch sea salt
2 small (or 1 large) spring onion, whites finely chopped, greens finely sliced on angle
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
few drops sesame oil
12 dumpling wrapper (gang gow pastry)

Place chunks of mulloway in food processor, salt lightly and pulse until the mix comes together (do not over blend or it will be rubber). Place in bowl with all other ingredients, work together and recheck seasoning and add salt if needed. Wrap in dumpling skins and steam 4 mins in a wooden steamer over a pot of simmering water.

Serve with a little black vinegar and soy as a dipper.


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salt baked msc spencer gulf king prawn with "sort of " nouc mam cham

msc spencer gulf king prawns on the bbq

(december 2011)

This method of cooking relies on super heated rock salt and "burying" the whole prawns in it to cook. The result is a paper thin head, tail and carapace (fancy word for the prawn's mid section, shell, feet and flippers). You can crunch right through the whole head and body - eat the whole thing from head to tail. No peeling, no waste, tonnes of flavour and a juicy succulent prawn. If you're put off by the thought of biting through a prawn shell and head, well close your eyes and at least give it a shot, the dish is amazing.

The dipping sauce is a Vietnamese nouc mam cham, minus fish sauce (or salt), which is omitted because the prawns will already be nice and salty from the salt baking.

salt baked msc spencer gulf king prawn with "sort of " nouc mam cham

serves 4 as a generous entree

1 kg rock salt
12 whole green u/10 or u/8 (huge!) MSC certified Spencer Gulf King Prawns
5 kaffir lime leaves
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
6 whole big red dried chili
2 cassia sticks
6 star anise

Spread out the rock salt in a wok or on a flat top bbq and heat on full tilt. Stand back as the salt will pop and crackle as the moisture evaporates, a few pieces might even launch themselves!

Once it's very, very hot (after about 10 mins), dig a trench or hole in the salt, place the prawns and spices in then cover over with rock salt. The heat of the salt cooks the prawns in about 5 mins. When juice starts oozing out of the prawn is beyond ready.

Unbury the prawns, shake off excess salt Dip a prawn completely in the dipping sauce and eat (starting at the head)!

nouc mam cham
60 ml rice vinegar
60 ml coconut water (sometimes called young coconut juice, it's the pale "water" you get when you crack a fresh coconut, but is available tinned in Asian grocers)
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 bird's eye chilli, thinly sliced (remove seeds if you don't like it hot)
40 ml lime or lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and whisk until sugar dissolved.

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ocean jacket trunk, buckwheat noodle in light miso broth

ocean jacket trunk, buckwheat noodle in light miso broth

(june 2011)

Here's a recipe using one of my favourite fish...ocean jacket. The flesh is firm and has a mild, almost sweet flavour complimented by the miso and mushroom soup.

serves 2 as a main course

½ leek end, chopped
½ small daikon, chopped
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
mushroom stems from enoki (used in garnish - see below)
1 onion
1 clove garlic
3 cm piece kombu seaweed
1 tablespoon dried anchovy
800 -1000 ml water
3 tablespoons white miso paste

Remove the heads of the enoki mushrooms and set aside with the ingredients for the "garnish". Halve garlic and onion, roughly chop leek and daikon. Place in 1.5 litre pot with dried shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushroom stems and water. Simmer for 30 mins, add the anchovy and kombu, simmer a further 30 mins and strain, reserve the shiitake mushrooms.

Add miso to the strained stock and whisk until dissolved, keep warm.

miso marinade for fish
1 large (or two small) Sea Rover Wild Catch Fisheries ocean jacket trunk
3 tablespoon white miso paste
50 ml sake
75 ml mirin
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat sake, mirin and sugar, then flame. Once the flame has cooked out, remove from heat and stir in miso paste. Dip the fish segments into the miso marinade. Then place fish in 180°C oven for about 12 mins to cook through.

soup "garnish"
50 g soba noodles
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil to fry mushrooms
50 g enoki mushrooms (stems previously removed to use in the soup - see above)
3 shiitake mushrooms (reserved from the soup - see above)
75 g oyster mushrooms
pinch dirt(y) spring bay tasmanian wakame
1 stem spring onion greens, cut diagonally
½ sheet nori, julienned (roll it up and cut with scissors into 2 mm wide "noodles")

Put soba noodles in a large pot of boiling water, add a cup of cold water and bring back to the boil, add another cup of cold water and bring to the boil again. Simmer for 8 mins. Strain and run under cold water until starch from noodles is removed.

Rip oyster mushrooms apart. Using the shiitake mushrooms from stock, remove and discard stems and slice caps thinly. In a hot pan sauté the mushrooms briefly in grapeseed oil, remove.

Heat soup with noodles, mushrooms and pinch of wakame. Place the noodles in the centre of the plate and ladle the hot soup over. Rest roasted ocean jackets on top of the noodles.

Garnish with spring onion curl, and nori julienne.


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apple, barley and almond muffins

adelaide showground farmers market kids' club

(march 2011)

It's March and apples are back. This recipe was one from an Adelaide Showground Farmers Market Kids' Club "muffin frenzy".

apple, barley and almond muffins

makes 6 super big or 12 medium muffins

300 g wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon lemon zest
150 g sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
240 ml buttermilk
65 ml Australian extra virgin olive oil
1 free range egg
30 g toasted Australian almonds, skin on, roasted and roughly chopped
100 g green apple, diced into 1 cm cubes and tossed in juice of ½ lemon
3 tablespoons pearl barley boiled in water with 1 cinnamon stick until soft, drain and discard cinnamon

Combine all ingredients gently in a bowl. This is best done by gently cutting the ingredients with a pastry card so as not to work gluten in the flour (thus creating a lighter muffin). Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake 180°C for 10-15 mins.

Serve with extra virgin olive oil or butter.

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triple b biodynamic grass fed shabu shabu

william the rooster, market mascot

(march 2011)

The Willunga Farmers Market celebrated its birthday on Saturday 26 February. William the Rooster (the market mascot from the original "old" market location) was ceremoniously instated at his new home in the town square by Zannie Flanagan. No doubt he'll be keeping an eye on things for many years to come.

Zannie was instrumental in the implementation of South Australia's first and oldest farmers market which began in the pub car park nine years ago. Apart from offering an array of goods from one of the states finest food producing regions, the market is dog friendly! What more could you want ?

I got to run around to the vendors and grab bits and pieces for a cook off. I ended up with vegies from Starlight Springs, Barry Beach's Organic Salt, a bit of Mt Compass Venison, Fresh Fields Mushrooms and some amazing Triple B Biodynamic Angus, which is the real deal, pasture fed stuff. All of it went in a Japanese style hotpot or steamboat, known as Shabu Shabu.

Happy Birthday and keep the amazing produce coming our way for years to come!

shabu shabu

serves 6 to 8

2 free range chicken carcasses
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
2 spring onions
9-10 cm piece dried kombu (seaweed)
pinch Beach Organics organic sea salt

Remove excess skin and the "parson's nose" from the chicken carcasses. Chop chooks into walnut sized pieces. Bruise ginger and tie spring onions in a knot, add to a 2 litre pot and cover with about 1.5 litres of water. Simmer for 1.5 hours.

Add kombu and simmer a further 30 mins. Srain and season VERY lightly with sea salt, so that it still tastes under seasoned. Reserve the liquid which will be used for your soup base.

500 g finely sliced Triple B organic grass fed beef *(see below)
¼ Chinese cabbage
2 carrots
200 g block firm tofu
2 large field mushrooms
8 spring onions
plus whatever other vegies (and mushrooms) you fancy (e.g. zucchini, squash etc)

*The best cuts for this dish in my opinion ...... topside, knuckle, D rump, striploin, brisket, oyster blade and chuck. Contrary to popular belief you do not need a prime cut like fillet so long as you follow the preparation instructions below. Go and have a chat to Madeline or Liam from Burns' Biodynamic Beef (Triple B) at the Willunga Farmers Market (who breed organic beef from real pasture with absolutely no grain feeding). They will explain which cuts work best.

Denude (remove all sinew and cap fat) from your chosen cut. Portion roughly into candy bar-size pieces (i.e. 80 mm by 30 mm). Roll tightly in plastic film and chuck in the freezer for 30 mins. This will enable you to slice the required 2 mm thick slices with ease. Look at which way the grain runs and ensure you slice across the grain (i.e. your knife needs to be cutting 90 degrees to the angle of the grain). This will ensure that the beef will be tender after only the briefest swirl around in the hot stock. Lay out on a serving plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Shave all veggies (i.e. carrots and mushrooms plus anything else you fancy) very finely. Slice spring onions into 30 cm batons. Slice the tofu into bite size chunks and finally, cut the heart out of the cabbage and slice it into 4 sections. Lay all the vegies and tofu out on another serving plate.

dipping sauce
6 tablespoons white sesame seeds
3 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
2½ tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon grated garlic
4 cups cooked short grain rice to serve

Pound the sesame seeds in mortal and pestle with the garlic to form a smooth paste, mix all other ingredients in and add a smidge of water if you feel it's too strong.

Fill the chimney of the steam boat cooker with small pieces of preheated charcoal (I usually put them on a rack over an open gas flame). If you don't have a steam boat, just use a cast iron pot and a table burner. Add the stock. Place onto the table with bowls, chopsticks, cooked rice (in individual bowls), the meat, vegetables and the dipping sauce.

Swish the beef and vegies around in the stock using chopsticks, until lightly cooked, then dunk into the dipping sauce and eat with rice. Once all the garnishes have been swished and eaten, portion the stock into the bowls and drink.

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