Monday, 27 January 2014


COURSE 1- Chilled mint pea soup , creme fraiche , wild rocket flower & fennel frond . COURSE 2- Seafood morsels (poached pipi, smoked tiger prawn, balsamic baby octopus, battered whitebait, crumbed soft shell crab) served on edible sand with fresh french tarragon. COURSE 3- Raspberry gelato, blueberry labna, fresh blueberries, dehydrated purple yam crumbs & pink tropical micro edible orchid in a vanilla tuile.

                I've created this plate for something different and makes a perfect way to showcase a few different tastings in the one presentation. In hindsight if I was to do another 3 n 1 in this style of entree, main, dessert then I would not use techniques that don't hold their integrity by the third tasting. For example ice creams, sorbet, foams etc. just don't hold form by the time the diner gets to the dessert. For this preparation I've listed the method below in order of courses and with out a specific timeline.              
  COURSE 1- To make the chilled pea soup I first placed sweet peas, sprigs of common mint and ginger mint with a few chunks of triple smoked ham into a saucepan with water and brought to a simmer until the peas were tender. I then strained the peas removing the ham and placed the peas and mint into a blender with a little of the cooking liquid. This was blended to a smooth pourable consistency and seasoning was added, the soup was then placed into the fridge to chill. To serve I poured the chilled soup into a shot glass and topped the soup with a small dollop of creme fraiche, a wild rocket flower and fennel frond.                                                                                                              
  COURSE 2- The edible sand was made by mixing together panko crumb, ground ikan bilis, seaweed,  fried onions, black salt, sea salt and panela in a bowl with some olive oil and nakame shiro miso paste. The pipi was poached in champaign, shallots and thyme sprigs in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the shell opened. The meat was then carefully prised from its shell before being served. To smoke the the prawn I first peeled, de-headed and de-veined the prawn. The prawn was then cold smoked with hickory chips for around 4-5 minutes until it became opaque and beginning to take on a caramelisation, its important not to over cook, the prawn must still have moisture or it becomes tough and chewy. The prawn was then placed into olive oil with lemon juice, crushed garlic and chopped italian parsley. The baby octopus were first washed and cleaned then placed into a marinating dish along with balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and chillies, oregano and parsley together with a little olive oil and this was covered and refrigerated overnight. The battered whitebait is simply whitebait fish washed and drained and rolled in seasoned flour before being shallow fried to golden and removed on to paper towel to drain. These were then seasoned with salt before being served. The crumbed soft shell claw came store bought and was oven baked to golden before being plated. The dish was garnished with fresh french tarragon and looking back now needs a sauce to accompany.                                      
  COURSE 3- To make the labna which is a greek cheese made from yoghurt I simply hung some greek yoghurt, crushed blueberries and a little salt in a cheese cloth wrap in the fridge for 3-4 days with a bowl placed to capture the whey drain off. The cheese was then ready to be used vibrant purple in colour, this could then be rolled into balls and placed in a jar of olive oil and sealed for later use if you chose to. The raspberry gelato was made by heating equal parts milk and cream to the boil, this was then removed from the heat. In a bowl I beat egg yolks and sugar to pale creamy consistency to this I added one third of the milk and cream mixing to incorporate this was then added back to the rest of the milk and cream and on a low to medium heat while stirring, was cooked until the custard coated the back of my spoon. The mix was then removed from the heat and allowed to cool, in the meanwhile I blended raspberries to a puree and added this to the cooling custard, this was then poured into a metal container and placed in the freezer for 10-12 hours, stirring with a fork every 2-3 hours. The tuile was made by first mixing up a batter made from sugar, egg whites, melted butter, flour and a vanilla extract. This was placed into the fridge for 4-5 hours before being spread with a silicon spatula on to a baking paper lined flat tray and placed into a 170 deg.c. oven for around 8-9 minutes, the tuile was removed just as it started to take colour. Working fast I placed the disc over a rolling pin to achieve the taco shape of the tuile. After about 30-40 seconds of being out of the oven the tuile hardens and remains that shape. The purple yam crumbs were made by grating purple yam and placing spread out onto lined trays and placed in a 75 deg.c. oven for around an hour. The crumbs are then removed and allowed to cool. This course was garnished with a pink tropical micro edible orchid from my garden.                                                        

Saturday, 25 January 2014

' CHOCOLATE HALVA .' dessert

Halva mousse , Chocolate gelato , Poppy seed crumbs , Crumbled Chocolate Halva and Milk chocolate sauce .

                    This is an example of minimal ingredients although very much a labour of love. Halva translating to 'sweetmeat' derived from the arabic word for sweet, is essentially a crystallised paste of sesame seeds (tahini) and sugar. Halvah may be flavoured with nuts, coffee and in this case cocoa. Popular in the Balkans and all throughout the middle east and adjacent countries to the mediterranean sea. To take this recipe right back you first must make the tahini, then the halva is made from this allowing a day and half for the sugar crystals to grow and give the halva its distinctive texture.              
                    So the preparation of this dish began with the making of tahini sauce. First I toasted some sesame seeds in a 170 deg.c. oven for around 10 minutes, tossing them around frequently so they didn't burn. These were then allowed to cool for about 20 minutes before pouring the seeds into a food processor with a little olive oil and this was processed to a thick but pourable consistency. With the tahini made I made a start on the halva heating 2 cups of honey, stirring to prevent localised overheating. This was simmered to reach a 'soft ball' syrup or 115 deg.c. on the sugar thermometer.The honey was then set aside and allowed to cool for 5 minutes, meanwhile I gently warmed tahini to the temperature of 50 deg.c. and folded this into the hot honey syrup and added some vanilla essence. I then poured one third of this mix into a separate bowl mixing 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and a little chocolate essence. Into a lined plastic container I poured the vanilla mixture then the chocolate mixture on top of this, with a spoon I swirled the mixtures together to give a marbled effect with the chocolate. Once cooled the container was sealed with a lid and placed into the fridge for around 36 hours or so giving enough time as explained above to mature and develop its characteristic texture. Two days later and I began on the halva mousse of which I brought cream to boiling point, in a bowl I whisked together egg yolks and caster sugar until pale and thick to this I added one third of the cream mixing to incorporate and then returning the egg and cream mixture back to the heat. I cooked this on low heat stirring until it coated the back of my spoon, to this I added 1% agar agar, tahini, honey and simmered whisking to dissolve the agar. This was then removed from the heat and in another bowl I whipped cream to a soft peak and folded this into the custard mix. I then added chopped halva and poured the mixture into cylinder moulds with a little poppy seed crumb on the bottom, these were then placed in the fridge to set before being un-moulded for plating. I used my usual non machine method of making this gelato just adding some cocoa powder and chocolate essence in the heating of the milk and cream stage and then some melted dark chocolate at the custard thickening stage. To make the poppy seed crumb I placed sugar, flour, almond meal, poppy seeds and chopped cold butter into a bowl and using my fingertips brought the mix to a crumb with no remaining butter lumps through it. This was then placed in the fridge for an hour and then spread on to a baking paper lined flat tray and placed in a 170 deg.c. oven for around 10 minutes, before bringing it back to a crumb with a folk and finishing off a few more minutes in the oven for colour. To make the sauce I simply heated milk chocolate in the microwave until melted and free from lumps. I shaved and sliced pieces of halva as an accompaniment.

Monday, 20 January 2014


Cream Pie of Sweet Pea & mint on Oreo biscuit base , Coconut ice-cream , Pea puree , Hazelnut whipped cream ,  Coconut shortbread crumb , Coconut tuile , peas & mint leaves.

             This dish here is a classic example of using a common flavour combination in mint and peas, more renown as dinner or lunch ingredients being used in a dessert. I would say this dessert would fit better after a lunch rather than evening meal but none the less works well as a sweet dessert. I was fond of the pie as my wife commented that the ice cream was to die for and there needed to be more.                
             I started with the coconut ice-cream and the tuile the night before as these are the time consumers. For the ice-cream I brought equal parts milk and full cream to the boil with a little coconut essence, this was then removed from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes. During this time I beat egg yolks and sugar until pale adding the the milk to the eggs and mixing then returning to the stove in a clean pot I cooked the custard over a low heat for about 5 minutes until it became thick and coated the back of my spoon. This was then poured into a metal container and placed in the freezer over night, churning with a fork every 2-3 hours. For the tuile I made the batter by mixing sugar, egg whites, melted butter, coconut extract and all purpose flour in a bowl, this was then placed in the fridge for 4-5 hours. The mixture was then spread out ultra thinly using a icing spatula onto a baking paper lined flat tray then placed into a 160 deg.c. oven for around 7-8 minutes until just taking colour. These were then removed from the oven and allowed to cool. To make the pie I first made the base by crumbling Oreo biscuits into a crumb and adding melted butter, this was then pressed into a lined container mould and placed in the fridge to harden. To make the filling I boiled peas, strained them and placed the peas into a blender with a little water and blended to a smooth puree. Some of this puree was kept for plating and with the rest I added some cream and blended to incorporate. The mix was then poured into a small saucepan with a little sugar and 1. 5 % agar agar and brought to a simmer while whisking to dissolve the agar powder. The mixture was then removed from the heat and poured into the hardened base mould, this was hen levelled and placed in to the fridge to set before being sliced with a hot knife to be served. The biscuit crumb is a mix of desiccated coconut and crumbled shortbread biscuits. And to make the last preparation the hazelnut cream I simply whipped cream, panela and hazelnut essence together to form a stiff cream. Two types of mint were used in the garnishing of this dish, common mint and ginger mint, the later being darker.                                                                          

' SUMMER PEARS .' poached in mulled wines

New season Pears poached in Red & White mulled wines , Poaching liquors , Hazelnut cream and fresh sage and thyme .

                     These pears were labeled new season are a summer variety of pear called Bartlett. Only on the shelves for a short period, their gone quicker than they came in. The summer pear season is extremely short compared to the common winter pears. Due to their small size they make perfect poaching pears for those desserts on summer nights. But the real heroes here are the two perfectly contrasting wines I've used for the poaching liquors. Both wines were a generous gift to my wife given to her at Christmas time by Steve, the owner manager of 'Kitchen Crew' a Kitchen Designer company. The red wine is a Peter Lehmann 2010 Futures Shiraz from the Barossa region. The berries have been sourced from a small number of vineyards that specialise in producing low yielding high concentration fruit which is prominent to the rich velvety palate and deep colour. The white wine is a dessert wine of 27% alc. made by a Cretan establishment better known for its apiaries and honey production. This imported wine from Aroma of Crete company in Chania, Crete is based on an old mediterranean recipe from Greece. Made from tsikoudia (brandy made from distilled grape must), thyme honey and spices.                                                                                                                              
                     To poach these pears I started with adding some white wine, water, lemon juice, sugar, lemon peel and fresh thyme to a small pot bringing to the boil and removing from the heat. In a separate pot I added the red wine, water, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, sage, bay leaf and cloves. Also bringing this to the boil and removing from the heat. I then prepared the pears peeling them and slicing a slither off the bottom of each one so they can stand freely. Dividing the pairs I placed half standing in the white wine liquor and the other half in the red wine liquor, returning them back to the stove and brought to a gentle simmer, I ladled syrup over the pears every 5 minutes and poached them for around 30 minutes with lids on the pots. Once the pears were tender and easy to pierce with the point of a sharp knife, I removed them from their syrups and allowed them to cool before slicing for presentation. The poaching liquors were returned back to a simmer for a further 20-25 minutes to reduce more and thicken. To make the accompanying cream I beat full cream, panela and hazelnut syrup together using a bar mix until thick, of which I then spooned into a piping bag and placed in the fridge before being piped for presentation.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

' FIGS .' fresh & baked

Figs served fresh & baked , Fig sap Ricotta fresh & baked , Mulled Red & White wine syrups and Toasted Fig leaves .

                I've been itching at doing this dish, but having to wait and show patience. It was around early december that figs started surfacing at the shops but if I remember at a hefty price of AUS $ 59.99 / kg. A couple of days ago after work, I went to the same grocers and picked up 4 for $5 and the quality is outstanding, beautiful purple tinged plump fruit, the time was right. The ricotta in this recipe has been made by curdling the milk with fig sap, I've done this cheese in the past and I must admit with better success. This is an old method used by herders, one would travel light with just provisions of water, a chunk of bread and a small pot to make tea and cheese. At meal time the herders would boil the milk from their flock with either stinging nettle or a freshly broken fig branch to make the curds for their bread. My Fig tree is yet to bear fruit and was looking very tall and in need of a prune and with the warmer weather the sap is running free and perfect for using in this recipe. Toasted fig leaves is something else and when toasted right imparts flavours and aromas of figs with caramel, marrying both the flavours of the fresh fig with the baked fig, plus the enhancement of textural crunch to the dish.          
                The ricotta was the first preparation of this dish and was done the night before. I first heated cows milk in a saucepan gently until just before the boil and then added three pieces of 3 inch long stem that had been nicked all down the length to allow more sap to run. Once the curds started to separate from the whey I removed the pot from the stove stirring gently. The curds were then ladled into a cheese cloth lined colander to drain. At this stage I reserved some of the curd for presenting as is, before tying the four corners of the cloth and hanging for about 1-2 hours. The cheese was then re-wrapped and pressed into a mould with a 1kg weight on top, this was placed into the fridge overnight and the next morning turned and pressed for a further 2-3 hours. The cheese was then un-moulded and un-wrapped, brushed lightly with olive oil and baked in a 160 deg.c. oven until golden in colour. The baked ricotta still fragile while warm was allowed to cool before being sliced into small wedges for plating. The baked fig was simply cut in half and sprinkled with panela (evaporated sugarcane juice) before being placed on to a tray and baked at 160 deg.c. until the panela caramelises and the fig collapses. The leaves were simply toasted under a grill until caramel in colour and deep in aroma. To make the syrups I used a dessert white from Crete, Greece which is made from brandied grape must and thyme flavoured honey. This was reduced with lemon peel and sugar to a thick syrup, to make the red syrup I used a young shiraz from the Barossa along with cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and sugar.


Summer Beer platter of - Spicy Crocodile jerky , Bush tomato & Dorrego pepper leaf flavoured Wild yam chips , Sugar-bag honey roasted Macadamia nuts . 

            The follow on from the popular bush tapas this is a platter to have when having a beer on a summers day (possibly Australia Day) before a barbecue or while watching the cricket. The macadamia nuts were the real inspiration for this dish and the story goes like this. The other day coming home from the local shop on the bikes with the boys we stopped out the front of this house as I wanted to grab some fallen nuts from this big mature macadamia tree. Just as I'm filling my pockets a ladies head pops up from behind a garden bed and says 'take as many as you like, they're messy things'. She walks off inside and not half a minute later she comes back outside and hands me a bag and walks off again. So I quickly grab whats there and get back on the bike, this is 'zero food miles' at its best. The recipe I used for the croc jerky is a traditional Cambodian recipe for marinated sun-dried snake, of which I've just simply replaced the snake for crocodile meat and opted for an oven instead of my solar de-hydrater.          
           To make these bush snacks I first started with slicing the crocodile tail meat while still half thawed thinly, placing the strips into a bowl and mixing with crushed chilli, coriander seeds and roots, crushed black pepper corns and lemongrass, brown sugar and soy seasoning (maggi). This was allowed to marinate in the fridge for 2 hours before placing on to a wire rack and dried in a 50 deg.c. oven for about 4-5  hours. The wild yam chips were made by thinly slicing the yam and soaking in cold water for an hour. The slices were then pat dried and brushed with olive oil before being placed on to a baking paper lined flat tray and oven baked at 170 deg.c until just starting to show colour. They were then removed and seasoned with ground bush tomato and dorrego pepper leaf. The macadamia nuts were shelled and rolled in sugarbag honey before being placed on to a lined tray, sprinkled with salt and roast at 150 deg.c. until golden in colour, removed and allowed to cool.                                                                            
            The centre piece of this dish although edible is there more for its decorative value. Made from squid ink the gelee circle in the middle of the plate holds a chilli bush tomato sauce (red), a honey mustard sauce (yellow) and soured cream (white). These were arranged on to the gelee of squid ink using an indigenous art technique of dot painting. This centre piece has no significance other than the peoples association and perception of the decoration to help identify the culture of the food.

Friday, 17 January 2014


Backyard harvested salad of Edible weeds - Chickweed , Dandelion , Water hyssop , Wild rocket , Purslane , Scurvy weed & Lambs quarter with Pink grapefruit , Parmesan , wild rocket flowers and Lime & palm sugar vinaigrette .

              The second edition to the backyard salad series and this time although still the majority of the dish being harvested from the backyard, the emphasis is on those plants most people dread in their garden and are unaware there's a meal right under foot. Many people around the world are edible weed forages and sometimes travel to collect their prized eating weeds. I'm unfortunate enough that these edible plants are some of the best growing plants in my yard only they're not in rows. With the exception of the Wild rocket and the purslane which are in rows and have been cultivated by me. In fact there are ten edible weeds that grow commonly in our yard with the inclusion of clover, salsify and nasturtium. Although these plants are domestically known as weeds and have no commercial value, some of the leaves used in this salad have more nutritional value than your supermarket salad leaf. For example Dandelion native to Europe and now a widespread common weed throughout the world contains the highest content of vitamin A of all greens and very high potassium levels, stimulates bile flow and digestive enzymes is considered a spring clean for your liver. Scurvy weed was first eaten by white settlers in the country to protect themselves from scurvy and Wild rocket a member of the mustard family, the group of plants renown for their cancer fighting properties. This is just scratching into the surface of whats in this salad dish from a nutritional aspect. As most of these weeds taste either bland or bitter I've added the accompaniments of parmesan cheese and pink grapefruit pieces with a lime and palm sugar vinaigrette and seasoned with black cypress salt.

From left to right and top to bottom - 
Dandelion, Lambs quarter, Purslane, Wild rocket, Scurvy weed and water hyssop. 


Entremet of Tomato & Saffron Custard , Blue swimmer crab salad , Faux caviar of squid ink , Fresh water hyssop and edible micro orchid .

                This is indulgence at its best with the use of fresh and exotic ingredients in one mouthful of taste bud ecstasy. For this summery between course dish I've paired the combination of tomato and saffron with a sweet, zesty crab salad topped with a faux caviar made of squid ink and garnished with vibrant exotic delicate cucumber flavoured micro orchid. The saffron used for the custard is of very high quality and 100% natural. The Gohar branded saffron is imported from Iran and this particular grade is all red stigmas. The orchids and the water hyssop both grow in abundance on our property and its only recently I found out that these tiny orchids are edible and for sale on the net for restaurants. The caviar was made using Tinta de calamar (squid ink) imported from a spanish company Nortindal.              
           I made the tomato saffron custards the night before on this plate by lightly simmering in a small pot some milk and about 4-5 threads of Iranian saffron. In a bowl I whisked together egg yolks, and tomato paste with some seasoning to this I added the hot milk whisking to mix. I then poured the custard back into the pot adding 1% agar and simmered whisking until the agar had dissolved. This was then poured into various sized plastic greased tubes with stoppers on the ends and allowed to set in the fridge overnight before being un-moulded and sliced for presentation. To make the faux caviar I used the cold oil spherification technique placing a tall glass of oil in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes, while this is chilling I placed water mixed with to 4g satchels of squid ink and 1. 5 % agar into a saucepan whisking to a simmer and then removed from the heat to cool. Once the squid ink solution was about 60 deg. c , using a pipette I drop balls of the squid ink into the tall glass of oil. The pearls fall slowly in the chilled oil allowing them to set before reaching the bottom of the glass. Once I had piped enough I strained them and rinsed the squid ink caviar under cold water to remove the oil off them. The crab salad was a mix of blue swimmer crab meat, chopped chives, white shallot, lemon and lime zest, seasoned with salt and pepper and spooned on top of the tomato and saffron custard.                                  
            To plate these were then arranged in a diagonal line in the centre of the plate from biggest to smallest at the front, in proportion to weight they are almost all the same. These were then topped with a spoon of faux caviar and garnished with a sprig of water hyssop and an exotic edible micro orchid.