Sunday, 2 November 2014

' home cured DUCK PROSCIUTTO with MELON .'

Home cured Duck breast Prosciutto served with Compressed Cantaloupe in lemon vinaigrette, Olive oil & Powdered Olive oil, Balsamic vinegar reduction and micro greens.

              October was a month of a few simple charcuterie projects I had wanted to do for a while now. As I've been recovering from a third bout of surgery on my foot, these little projects have been a perfect   therapy. Just a little light preparation and then some patience while they cured, brined, pickled or corned, depending on the project at the time. There are quite a few recipes available, which I find to be safe and easy to do from home and really for the results at the end, its worth the wait. To name a couple that I do from home, Duck breast pastrami and prosciutto, duck liver pate, pickled lambs tongue, nitrate free bacon and smoked oysters, salmon and trout. Duck prosciutto I would recommend to any one wanting to give charcuterie a go, as its hard to go wrong, providing you're working in an hygienic environment and clean hands and work tools and surfaces. The duck prosciutto consists of just three ingredients, the duck breast, salt and white pepper, with a bit of cheesecloth, some kitchen string and 7-10 days of patience and Voila.        
              First of all, I rinsed the duck breast under cold running water before pat drying. In a glass container I spread 1 cup of evaporated sea salt (course mill), placing the breast on to the salt, skin side up. I then placed a 2nd cup of salt over the top of the breast, making sure to completely cover the duck. This was then covered with plastic wrap and placed in the fridge for 24 hours. I then rinsed the salt from the duck breast which was now firm and had gone quite red in colour, before pat drying with a towel and seasoning with the anti-bacterial properties of the white pepper. The duck was then wrapped in a couple of layers of cheesecloth before being strung with kitchen string and hung in a dark, cool place (8-10C) for 7-10 days. After a week I started checking on the meat by gentle pressing the thickest part of the cut. When the meat was firm to the touch, which was around the 9th or 10th day it was ready to be sliced and sampled. When sliced thinly enough the layer of breast fat just melts away on your tongue and together with the saltiness of the duck flavoured meat is just perfection for the palate.                                                                                                                      
               For this dish, I stuck to the perfect match for an accompaniment, rock-melon, to which I sliced into 5cm long, 1 x 1 cm batons. The batons were then placed into a food grade plastic pouch with some lemon vinaigrette and vacuum sealed on high. These were left in the fridge overnight to compress, breaking down the structures of the fruits cell walls, releasing the natural sugars and flavour of the melon, as well as soaking in the vinaigrette. To make the reduction I simple simmered down some balsamic vinegar and a little sugar until thick and syrupy. The powdered olive oil was made by mixing at a ratio of 40/60, Olive oil to Tapioca Maltodextrin (N-zorbit M) until light and fluffy. To plate I placed the compressed melon batons lined diagonally across the plate topping each with a slice of duck prosciutto and the olive oil powder. This was then garnished with some micro greens and on one side of the dish I placed some dots of balsamic reduction and on the other side I drizzled some olive oil.        

Sunday, 26 October 2014

october offerings' PICKLED LAMBS TONGUE .'

Pickled Organic grass-fed Lambs tongue with Sous vide Baby beetroot in raspberry sauce, Sheep's milk Curd snow, Apple & German chamomile oil and chamomile leaves. 

                 The third instalment of the 'october offerings', this dish is a variation of one that was getting around the tables of L'Enclume a few years back. The sheep's milk curd snow is very light and delicate but refreshing against the earthy sweetness of the raspberry sous vide beets and the apple infused oil. All giving way to the acidity of the pickled tongue and its strong lamb flavours. The pickled tongue underwent a 3 week brining and pickling process listed below, before it was sliced thinly to be served.        
                 After the tongue was detached and removed from the sheep head, I rinsed the tongue under cold running water before placing the tongue into a glass container. I then prepared a brine of salted water, covering the tongue with the brine and refrigerating overnight covered. The next day I rinsed the tongue under cold running water again before this time simmering the tongue on a medium heat in a  brine of water, apple cider vinegar and salt for about 2 hours until the tongue was tender. The tongue was then rinsed again and the outer membrane was removed. In a saucepan I brought to the boil some water, vinegar, salt, sugar, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and peppercorns. I then placed the tongue into a sterilised jar and covered the tongue with the cooled pickling liquid, securing the jar with a lid, the the tongue was placed into the fridge and allowed to mature for 3 weeks. To make the curd snow, I first made the curd as per earlier posted this month. Only once the curd was drained of all its whey, I formed a ball with the curd and placed it into the freezer to freeze solid. Once the curd was solid, using a grater I shaved the frozen curd to form a powdery snow. In a small saucepan I gently heated some olive oil with a few strips of apple peel and some german chamomile leaves. The oil was then removed from the heat and allowed to stand and infuse until cool. The oil was then strained through cheese cloth and ready to be used. The last application was the beets of which I simply peeled, quartered and placed into a food grade plastic pouch with some frozen raspberry sauce. The pouch was vacuum sealed and placed into a 84C water bath for an hour. The beets and sauce were then removed from the pouch and chilled before being served.


Cornmeal crusted Organic grass-fed Lambs brains with a Golden peach & Sweet corn salsa, Lemon Balm and a Sherry Vin gastrique.

                    This dish is a continuation of the 'october offerings', with the brains used here coming from the sheep head given to me buy a good mate. As butchering is not something I do all he time, I wasn't quite sure on the approach to removing the brains from the skull without a band saw. So with some unsuccessful googling, I picked up the head and went downstairs. With the head laid out upright, wrapped in plastic and wedged between to big rocks and now my 3 year old son Levi as audience. I took to the head with a tomahawk, seven blows later I split the skull directly down the middle and managed to keep the brains intact, as my son watched on with an excited curiosity. With this dish the peach and corn salsa gives a sweetness as the acidity of the sherry vin gastrique cuts the richness of the crumbed lambs fry.                                                                                                                                        
                   After removing the brains from the sheep skull, I rinsed them thoroughly before trimming any fatty tissue. The brains were then soaked in fresh ewes milk for about an hour, before being coated with cornmeal and shallow fried in pork fat. The crumbed brains were then removed, drained on paper towel and seasoned with salt. To make the salsa, I lightly sauteed some diced peach and corn kernels in some olive oil and seasoned with a little cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. As the peaches just started to leak their juices, I removed the salsa from the stove and allowed it to cool before serving. The vin gastrique was made by gently reducing sherry vinegar and a little sugar until thick and syrupy.

october offerings - ' SHEEPS MILK CURD .'

Fresh Organic Ewes milk Curd served with a spring salad of Garden peas & greens, Asparagus, Green Courgette, Sprigs of Mint and Sage flowers.

                      Its been a while between posts and I do apologise to any followers, there has been quite a bit on my plate recently, so to speak. Not so long ago a local good mate of ours just got his lambs done and came over with some spring offerings. Amongst some quality cuts of grass reared lamb, there was also a whole, skinned sheep head and about 3 quarts of fresh ewes milk. I was a bit taken back by the sheep head at first, but I've always wanted to have a go at pickled lambs tongue. The only thing is I wasn't quite sure what to use to remove the tongue. Immediately when I saw the milk my mind ticked over with thoughts of food pairings for ewes milk yoghurt and milk curd. Sheeps milk, despite not widely drunk in modern culture, has a far more superior protein value and has almost twice the fat content of cows and goats milk. These qualities make sheeps milk perfect for cheese making with some fine examples such as Manchego, Pecorino and Roquefort.                                                                            
                     This milk curd has been made using lemon juice to curdle the milk which imparts a nice faint hint of citrus freshness through the curd. I started by heating some of the ewes milk in a saucepan until just before boiling point, about 87-91 C. The milk was then returned to a gentle low heat before I added some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Stirring to separate the curds and the whey, I then strained the curd through some cheese cloth and forming a ball, I squeezed out any excess whey. To serve a gave the curd a dressing of some macadamia nut oil and seasoning of cracked back pepper. All the vegetables were tossed in olive oil and lemon juice and the plate was garnished with sprigs of mint, olive oil herb and purple sage blossom.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


Antipasto plate of House Brined Kalamata olives, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Marinated artichoke hearts and Persian Feta.

              This little project started a few months ago, back in the middle of june. I was at my favourite grocers ' Fruit Fantasy & Delicatessen' in Stafford when the owner showed me a basket of green olives. They were from her own tree at home and she offered them to me at a price too good to resist $2/kg even though I wasn't quite sure really how to cure them. So I asked and I had received more than enough information to get me on my way. By the time I got round to brining the batch of olives, they had begun to turn colour. So I went back to the shop and consulted with the little old lady and she assured me they were fine, so I bought what she had left which were still green and brined both batches. The prosciutto I used in this antipasto is of the finest quality and is a protected designation of origin. Made in Italy under the strictest of regulation during the growth of the animal and the process of the final product. Only 31 companies have the license and rights to call their prosciutto San Daniele. The feta is a persian style feta packaged in a salted brine from the cheese makers at South Cape.            
             To brine the olives was very easy but you must have patience and a lot of salt. First of all I washed the olives under running water and discarded any bruised or badly blemished olives. I then made holes in each olive by stabbing into the flesh of the olive with a fork, leaving four holes for the oils to seep out and for the brine to penetrate. I then made a brine of half a cup sea salt to 10 cups of water. I placed the olives into a plastic bucket and poured the brine over the olives to cover them completely, using a heavy plate to keep them submerged but at the same time being careful not to create air pockets. I then secured the bucket with a lid and placed the olives into a dark, cool area of the house and covered the bucket with a towel. For the first 2-3 weeks I drained the olives from the brine and prepared a fresh brine daily. After about 3 weeks most of the oil had seeped out and the brine wasn't tainting as frequent. But I never left the same brine in the bucket for more than 3 days at a time. After about 3 months the olives had become plump from taking on the brine and there was no bitter taste any more, they were ready to be marinated. To marinate these olives I used an assortment of green and black olives in a container with olive oil, chilli, orange peel and oregano. This was left to infuse the flavours, covered in the fridge for a week before being served with the accompaniments.                            

Tuesday, 30 September 2014


Baked yeast cake soaked in Rum spiked Peach leaf syrup, Creamy Peach curd, Crystallised peach buds & leaves, Creme fraiche, Fresh Golden peaches and Almond praline crumb. 

                      This dish comes from an inspiring recipe from Linda a renown freelance chef from Connecticut in the states. Until I had read her works, I wasn't aware that peach leaf could be used in such a culinary manner and have such a powerful flavour. This recipe is seasonal at its best and requires careful timing in the harvesting of the leaves. The rum baba is a yeast cake baked and soaked in a rum syrup, it has the richness similar to brioche as it melts away in the mouth but the texture more refined like a genoise sponge. This recipe plays on its traditions and experiments with the flavour compound
Benzaldehyde, of which has a strong presence in peach leaves, also bitter almonds and the fruit, flowers
and bark of most stone fruit. Benzaldehyde is present in coffee, apple juice and bitter almond extract, which is pure benzaldehyde. Almond extract is the flavouring used to make marzipan, maraschino cherries, amaretto liqueur and amaretti biscuits. Benzaldehyde is present in high levels especially when
the leaves are young and the tree has just come out of dormancy, if the leaves are left to mature the flavour becomes weakened and more bitter on the palate. The rum babas have been made replacing the liquid with a beer brewed from peach leaves and this must be made a few days prior. The recipe also requires peach leaf tea, which is a popular tincture in the health circles and lays claims to curing many an ailment, especially good for clearing chests and airways. I kept with the peach theme for the rest of the plating and the fruit has been represented in all its stages of life.
                   To make the rum babas I first had to make a brew of peach leaf beer, this was made 3 days in advance allowing enough time for fermentation to happen.                                                                  
PEACH LEAF BEER- For the beer, a recipe similar to making ginger beer was used. I brought 500 ml of water to the boil and poured the water over 35g of fresh young peach leaves, this was covered tightly
and set aside for 4 hours. I then placed 60g of sugar, 30g of lemon juice and 4g of granulated bakers yeast into a clean plastic 1.25l soda bottle. I then strained the peach leaf tea into the bottle and filled the rest of the bottle with fresh water, one inch from the top. I then capped the bottle, gave it a little shake and stored the bottle, wrapped in a towel at around 20C for 48 hours or until the bottle no longer yields when pressed. The beer was then placed into the fridge to stop the fermentation process and used
the next day to make the babas.                                                                                                                
BABAS- To make the babas I placed 7.5g of yeast, 10g of sugar, 20g of flour and 44g of warm milk into a mixing bowl and stirred to incorporate evenly, this was then set aside for 15 minutes until the mixture is bubbly and the yeast has activated. To this I added 270g of flour, 6g of salt, 30g of sugar and
3 eggs, beating to incorporate and then I added 125g of the Peach leaf beer. This was mixed until smooth, covered loosely and set aside for an hour in a warm place. Using an electric mixer, I then added 170g of melted butter while beating on a low speed. I then added 30g of chopped peach leaves and poured the batter into a greased and lined tin. Traditionally babas are cooked as individual cakes and are cooked in speciality moulds or muffin tins. I wanted to present the cake in broken pieces so I baked the cake in a loaf tin at 190C for about 12 minutes before cooling and soaking the cake in a peach leaf infused rum syrup upon serving.                                                                                              
SOAKING SYRUP- I placed 30g of chopped fresh peach leaves into a bowl. I then brought 85g of water to the boil, pouring over the leaves. This was covered loosely and allowed to infuse. Once cooled
I strained the peach leaf tea and brought it back to the boil adding 2 thin slices of lemon and 115g of sugar, this was reduced to a simmer before removing from the heat and strained before adding 140g of dark rum. The syrup was then used while still hot to pour over the babas and allowed to soak in.                    
PEACH CURD- To make the curd, I halved, stoned and pureed a large peach. In a bowl I beat 2 egg yolks with 1 and 1/3 cups of sugar, a tsp of lemon juice and a tsp of peach leaf tea. I then added the puree to the mixture and set aside. In a double boiler I melted a 1/4 cup of unsalted butter before stirring in the peach mixture. I then stirred constantly for about 8-10 minutes until the mixture thickened. This was then poured into a jar and sealed, placed into the fridge to cool and set before serving.                    
CRYSTALLISED PEACH BUDS & LEAVES- This is simply dipping the buds and leaves in whipped egg whites, wiping the excess off before coating the buds and leaves in confectioners sugar and allowing for them to dry in a non humid environment.                                                                                
ALMOND PRALINE CRUMB- To make the crumb I simply melted sugar in a pot until amber in colour before pouring over slithered almonds on a lined flat tray. This was allowed to set solid before being milled through my spice grinder to form a crumb.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


Green Pea & mint mousse served on Smashed peas with Chickpea fritters and a salad of Zucchini ribbons, Garden podded peas, pea greens & flowers.

                   Spring is definitely upon us here in Brisbane, Queensland and the day and night temps have climbed. With the onset of the warmer weather means the humble pea leaves the garden and its space becomes quickly replaced by beans. So as a way to say goodbye to winter and embrace the warmer months of spring and summer I've done a little homage to the pea. This dish is playful and pays tribute to the pea in its many different parts and stages of the plant, presented using a wide variety of cooking techniques from its raw state to a light creamy mousse to sweet and savoury fried fritters.
                   To make the pea mousse I cooked 300g of peas in salted boiling water until soft and tender, 100g of these were then placed into the blender with 100ml of milk, 100ml of cream and some finely chopped mint. This was then blended until smooth and poured into a small saucepan with a tsp of agar agar and brought to the simmer, whisking to dissolve the agar. I then separated some of the mixture and added some pure pea puree to make a greener tone. This was then spooned into a mould and placed into the fridge for a minute or two before pouring the rest of the original lighter coloured mixture on top, filling the mould. This was then placed in the fridge for half an hour to fully set before being un-moulded. For the fritters, I placed 100g of the cooked peas in a mixing bowl and mashed them until roughly smashed. To this I added 1 egg, 100ml of buttermilk, minced onion, 1/2 tsp of turmeric, 1/4 tsp of garam masala and seasoning of pepper and salt. This was all whisked to incorporate and put some air in the mixture before adding 50g of chickpea flour, 50g of plain flour and a 1/4 tsp of baking powder. With a wooden spoon I brought the mixture to a drop batter consistency. I then heated some ghee in a shallow frying pan and fried spoonfuls of the batter in batches, cooking for 2-3 minutes on each side. They were then drained on paper towel seasoned with citron salt and served warm. With the final 100g of cooked peas I mashed them in a bowl roughly with some olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. This dressing was also used to dress all the fresh greens and zucchini ribbons.