Sunday, 23 February 2014


Wild caught Sea Scallops wrapped in Nori seaweed , Edamame bean puree , Wasabi paste , Pickled ginger gel , Puffed sushi rice , Nasturtium leaves and Wild rocket flowers.

              This Japanese inspired dish is full of flavour kick and really showcases this beautiful seafood caught wild from the waters of the USA. Food miles has been blown out the window with this dish but I'm a firm believer of growing and producing what you can locally where possible, with the exception of compromise when it comes to exported superior quality grown products being consumed sparingly and seasonally, any way each to their own on this subject. This dish has textural and flavoursome contrasts with every mouthful and uses these japanese ingredients exceptionally well to bring out the best of the hero of the dish, the American sea scallop. You receive the sweet and sour from the pickled ginger gel, the hot and spicy from the wasabi, crunch from the puffed rice, peppery notes from the nasturtium leaves and saltiness from the nori which is all balanced by the scallop and edamame puree. Edamame beans are immature soybeans which are picked green and often served boiled and salted in their pods as a table snack in Japan.                                                                                                                
               This was a simple dish to put together and takes just a few minutes to cook. I began by making the 'Pickled ginger gel' by placing pickled ginger and a little rice wine vinegar and water in a blender, blending to a puree. This was then strained and poured into a saucepan with 1% agar agar and brought to a simmer whisking to dissolve the agar. Once dissolved I removed the pot from the heat and poured the mixture into a mould and allowed it to set. Once the mixture had set I placed the jelly into a blender with a little water and blended to puree of which I strained through a sieve before spooning into a piping bag and placing in the fridge for later plating. Next I placed some edamame beans in salted boiling water and cooked until tender, these were then placed into the blender with a little cream and seasoning and blended to a puree. The 'edamame bean puree' was then placed into a piping bag and chilled before serving. The 'nasturtium leaves' were from the backyard simply dressed in peanut oil and served as is. The 'wasabi paste' was store bought and came in a tube for easier application. To make the  'puffed sushi rice' I just simply put the sushi rice dry into a hot skillet, tossing them around until they start to puff of which they were then removed from the heat and finished off with the residual heat in the pan. The 'wild rocket flowers' came from my backyard and give off colour and a slight mustard flavour. Just before plating I placed the 'wild caught sea scallops' into a skillet over a hot flame and seared both sides until the scallop begins to loose its translucent appearence and becomes opaque, about 2 minutes both sides. These were then removed from the pan and allowed to rest before wrapping each scallop in a trimmed sheet of the 'nori seaweed', dampening the overlap with water to make it stick down these were then transferred back to the hot skillet to be finished off, about another 1-2 minutes each side. The nori scallops were then seasoned with a little sea salt and some toasted sesame seeds.

' deconstructed RED WINE .'

Fermented Black Grape juice Gelee accompanied with 12 Ingredients associated with red wines : ( black grape, raisin, plum, cherry jam, cloves, pink pepper, house butter, fruitcake, cinnamon, chocolate & balsamic pearls ).

            So here we have it my second adaptation of the Jose Andres dish of deconstructed wine, but this time I've stripped back the more complex of wines, the red range. Apart from red wine coming from black grape varieties rather than white grapes, the other most prominent difference to a red wine over a white is the skins and stems remain on the fruit in the crushing stage and in some cases left in full or partial in the fermentation process. This technique is what gives the red its colour and also contains a compound called 'phenolic' which has a substance called tannins. Tannin is the essential difference between reds from whites and is a powerful preservative and since reds are allowed to age for long periods this allows the wine to mature with time.
Tannin has a bitter taste and a dry, puckering mouth feel ( think cold strongly brewed tea ) and as wine ages this mellows to balance out with the fruitier tastes of a red wine. As with the white wine deconstruction I've also accompanied the grape juice gelee with ingredients that associate to the taste but also this time tried to replicate some of the mouth feels experienced with a good red wine.                  
           To make the gelee I've used the same techniques as with the white wine post except for the addition of stems to the juice and after the juice was strained I did a second press of just the pulp and skin to try and excrete some of those tannins. This was achieved by pressing the cheese cloth wrapped skins under weight for a couple hours and collected the juices that ran from this press and added them to the first press.                                    
          As with the whites there are countless influences on the overall taste of a red wine and this may include the techniques employed in making the wine for instance the conversion of malic acid to lactic acid during malolactic fermentation determines the mouth feel from acidic 'balsamic vinegar' to a more creamier mouth feel of say 'butter' or even in some cases of reds 'chocolatey' . The variety of a grape lends individual flavour characteristics as well, for example a good pinot noir has a strong flavour of 'cherries', as a Bordeaux is likened to 'plum'  and a Shiraz is more like 'blackberry' and has strong 'peppery' notes. When a wine is blended such as a merlot, the wine can lend features from both varieties and may have spicy back notes such as 'cinnamon' or 'cloves' and is said to sometimes have a hint of 'fruitcake' in its taste. Climate also plays a big factor in the boldness of the taste of fruit in the berries grown, in more temperate regions wine lends a tendency to have a light, crisper fruit taste more closer to the strawberries, cherries or the 'black grape' itself but in hotter climates the fruit tends to ripen better and will give more bolder fruit flavours of blackberry, blackcurrant or even 'raisins'.                                      
           This plate gives the diner a great selection of ingredients to ultimately use as 'food play'. Experimenting with combinations of flavours and mouth feels to recreate their favourite wine on a spoon or simply create their own blends to enjoy.

Friday, 21 February 2014

' deconstructed WHITE WINE .'

 Fermented White Grape Juice Gelee accompanied with 12 Flavours associated with white wines : ( mint leaf, orange zest, ruby grapefruit, asparagus, lime, rose pearls, white grape, lemon zest,  pink pepper, pineapple, gala apple & pomegranate).  

         This dish here is an adaption from Jose Andres of Washington cafe Atlantico. The cloudy yellow pool at the bottom of the bowl is a slightly fermented gelee of white grape juice and is the base for the twelve flavours commonly found in white wine that are lining the inside of the bowl. Simply take a spoonful of the gelee with one or more of the ingredients and taste. According to Andres the idea " is to trigger those memories of good wine experiences and flavours". I guess its also a great reference point to some of the flavours associated with white wines. The last step to making this dish is decorating the gelee with the twelve components, I have used some of the ones used in the Andres version but also changed a number of them for my own tastes, adaptions, and seasonal availability.          
          This dish not only qualifies for the title of deconstruction, it also qualifies as a slow food and a fermented food. This dish took just a little under three days to prepare and about three minutes to cook. I began making the fermented grape juice gelee by freezing the grapes, this is a technique commonly known as 'cryoextraction' and helps to separate the sweet grape juice from the water in the fruit, which has a higher freezing point. Once the grapes were frozen I placed half a pound of the frozen grapes, 100 ml of water and the juice of a quarter of a lemon in a blender and blended to a puree. This was then transferred to a cheese cloth and the juice was squeezed out over a strainer sitting on top of a pyrex collection jug. I then discarded the grape pulp and skins and was left with one metric cup of juice, of which I covered with clear film and placed in the fridge for two nights and two days to gather natural yeasts and start the fermentation process. On the third day the juice was skimmed and poured into a saucepan with 0.5% agar agar powder and brought to a simmer while whisking to dissolve the agar powder. The juice was then removed from the heat and poured carefully into a serving bowl and placed in a flat spot in the fridge to set. All of the topping ingredients were prepared as you see them except for the rose water pearls which were made by using the cold oil spherefication technique. I put a tall glass of oil in the freezer to chill for an half an hour and in the meantime in a small sauce pan I put some rose water, pink colouring and water with 1% agar and brought to the simmer, whisking to dissolve the agar.
I then allowed the rose water mixture to cool to around 50 deg.c before pipetting into the chilled oil. The pearls were then strained from the oil and washed gently under cold water before being plated.        
            The flavours that attribute certain kinds of white wines have reasons either caused by the region, the climate for that vintage, the variety of grape, the vine structure ( number of bud points, open or shaded fruit), but also the winemaking techniques, fermentation and maturation has a large part of some of these flavours above can be tasted in a wine. I would need a few nights to describe each of the twelve ingredients listed but for an example I'll use apple for instance. In the dish I presented finely diced red gala apple to represent the sweet apple tones in a Chardonnay wine that has undergone malolatic fermentation. This is a secondary fermentation via lactobacillus bacteria which converts the harsh mouth feel of the malic acid ( think green apples ) found in the wine, to lactic acid ( found in milk) which shows up as a more approachable buttery mouth feel yet still retaining the apple- like scents ( think red apples). There are reasons why a wine is citrus or has vanilla notes from ageing in oak and all these different flavour hints or, notes, or bold displays are what this dish is all about exploring.


Cornbread with Black Turtle beans Smoked chipotle salsa , Mexican-style chorizo , White maize kernels , Lime , Guajillo chilli , Tomatillo salsa verde , Sour cream , Queso fresco and pea shoots.

                In the heat of the summer I always enjoy my mexican food, weather its cobs of corn charred on a hot grill plate, generous butter and smoked salt or Fajitas done on the barbecue, the pairing of mexican and summer are perfect. Cornbread was the inspiration and hero of the dish here and to this I added nine other components to accompany the beautifully sweet starch. Below I've made a list of the preparations in some kind of order and by their titles.                                                                                  
   cornbread - I made the cornbread by sifting all purpose flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl I beat eggs, milk, and melted butter and to this I gradually added the flour mix beating to form a batter. I then poured the batter into a lined loaf tin placing into a 180 deg.c. oven and bake the bread for 25 minutes before removing, de-panning and set aside to be cooled on a wire rack before being torn apart to be plated.                                                                            
  queso fresco - This is a soft curd cheese made from coagulating cows milk with white vinegar, the result is similar to ricotta but with a sharper taste and more bleached curd. To make the queso fresco I heated some cows milk in a saucepan until just before boiling point, to which I then added a little white vinegar and removed from the heat stirring to separate the curds. I then ladled the curd from the whey and strained through some cheese cloth, the cloth corners were then gathered and the curd was hung in the fridge to drain excess whey before being crumbled for plating.                                                          
  chorizo - To make this meat mix I simple placed onion, garlic, jalpeno peppers, oregano, cumin, thyme, and a little oil in a food processor blender to make a paste. To this I added pork mince and mixed to incorporate, the meat was then fried off in a hot pan before being set aside for plating.                  
  tomatillo salsa - Into a saucepan I placed tomatillos, onion, garlic, green chillies, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, salt and a little white vinegar. To this I added water and brought to the boil before reducing to a simmer and cooking the tomatillos until soft about 10-15 minutes. The salsa was then poured into a blender and pureed to a green salsa verde sauce.                                                                                          
  turtle beans - These were soaked overnight before this preparation and then placed into a saucepan with a little olive oil, smoked paprika, onion and a bay leaf and sauteed before being covered with water and simmered for around 40 minutes. Once cooked they were drained and set aside to be plated.      
 smoked chipotle salsa - Using some of the cooked beans I added them and some onion, tomato, smokey dried chipotle peppers, green chillies, salt,vinegar, sugar, garlic paste, lemon juice and some smoked paprika into a saucepan with a little water bring to the simmer before removing to cool.                
 white maize - I simply cut the kernels from the cob using a sharp knife, dressing the kernels in a light coating of olive oil and lime juice I pan fried them in a hot skillet until just showing colour before I removed them from the heat and allowed them to cool for serving.                                                              
 guajillo chillies - These were simply sliced thinly, the sour cream and pea shoots were store bought.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


White Asparagus poached in a cream sauce , Pine Genoise sponge , Toasted pine nuts , Juniper berries , Pine oil , Conifer fronds and new season pine shoots.

                     I stumbled across this pairing a few months ago and have wanted to give it a try ever  since. So when finally white asparagus made its way to the shelves, I went about foraging for a good source of wild pine and conifer trees growing in the neighbouring parklands. In this dish I infused sugar with pine needles and then used the sugar to make the genoise , which is a form of sponge named after the Italian city of Genoa. The genoise sponge is known for not using chemical leavening but giving the cake its volume through a technique of suspending the batter with aeration. Unlike a basic sponge the eggs are separated and introduced to the mix by creaming the yolks first with sugar and then down the track folding in the egg whites. The original recipe called for the use of essential pine oil of aroma therapy quality, I opted for infusing olive oil with pine needles over a low heat to make the pine oil instead, as I find the essential oil to overpowering for this application.                                                          
                      I began preparing this plate by making the genoise first. To do this I first placed sugar and pine needles in a coffee grinder and pulverised to a powder pouring through a sieve to remove the chaff. I then placed the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and beat until tripled in size. To this I added a little green colouring and plain flour and some corn starch and whisked to form a batter. In a separate bowl I beat egg whites with a little cream of tartare to a soft peak and folded this carefully into the batter before pouring into a lined cake. The sponge was baked in a 180 deg.c oven for around 15 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool. While this was cooling I prepared the asparagus by chopping into pieces and poaching in a little cream and salt and pepper until soft and tender. The asparagus were then removed from the heat and set aside for plating later. To make the pine oil I simply infused pine needles in olive oil over a low heat for about 45-50 minutes before cooling. To accompany I dressed the conifer fronds and pine shoots in olive oil and toasted some pine nuts in a hot skillet. to finish I cracked some pepper medley over the dish and crushed some juniper berries for more of that alpine touch of flavour.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

' QUAIL , poached PEAR & SWEET POTATO .'

De-boned double breast of Quail roasted , Sweet potato & pear puree , Brandy Poached mini Pear , Quail jus , fresh pear salad , pea greens and micro sage leaves.

                  While out browsing the deli shops and Italian grocers the other day I made a special trip to this particular store that sells a small range of gourmet products and quail was what I was after. They never let me down and I walked out with some white asparagus six birds at $4 AUS. each. The pears in this dish are a mini variety I purchased while doing the weekly groceries. They were labeled 'paradise pears' by Zahra farms, Yenda NSW. I'm suggesting they are some kind of new season pear variety.      
                  The preparations for this dish are listed by name below and are in no order to follow as I prepared all the elements first and cooked them all at the same time its harder to explain in writing.
  QUAIL - The quail was first cut down the breast plate and turned over back side up and flattened. The legs from the top of thighs were removed as to the wings, leaving just the the double breast or torso. Using a sharp knife I ran the blade between the breast fillet and the rib cage and cut the meat away from the ribs up to the back bone and doing the same to the other breast fillet. Once I had achieved this I flipped the quail over so it was on its back and with the rib cage now free but the back bone still attached I used a pair of scissors to cut between the backbone and the skin and little flesh their is. I now removed the whole backbone and ribs from the bird leaving behind a de-boned perfect, skin on double breast fillet of fresh quail meat. This was then rinsed under cold water and checked for remaining bones before being pat dry. I then filled the pocket between the two breasts with sage leaves, folding the breasts back together I placed three toothpicks at the base of the meat to hold the the two fillets together while cooking. In a hot pan with some olive oil I placed the seasoned quail skin side down and cooked to brown the skin and seal the meat. Once the meat lifted easily without force and was browned I turned it over and cooked for a further 5-6 minutes. I then placed the quail into a roasting dish with a wire rack with water at the bottom of the pan and into a 160 deg.c. oven and baked the quail until the juices changed from running red to running brown, well I like mine with no blood anyway the cooking is preferential. The quail was then removed and allowed to rest before pulling the toothpicks out. I retained the juices from the roasting pan to make the jus.        
   JUS - I placed the cooking liquid, skimmed of fat retained from roasting in to a saucepan and simply brought the stock or jus ( juice from itself ) to a gently simmer and reduced the sauce to a thick syrup.    
  PUREE - I made the puree by simply placing cooked sweet potato, chopped fresh pear and a little cream in a blender and processing to a smooth consistency before being reheated when served.                    
  SALAD - The pear salad is a simple brunoise of summer pear dressed with extra virgin cold pressed olive oil and lemon juice with a seasoning of cracked pepper medley and smoked sea salt.                      
  PEAR - I poached the pear by first bringing some Cretan white sweet brandy made of honey, thyme and distilled grape must, a little water, sugar, honey, thyme and lemon juice and zest to the boil and then removed from the heat while I prepared the pear by peeling and trimming a slice from the bottom of the pear so it can stand freely. This was then placed into the brandy syrup and returned back to the stove and brought to a simmer . The pear was then ladled with the syrup and poached with a lid on the saucepan until tender and translucent, spooning syrup over the pear at regular intervals during the poaching, for a pear of this size it only took about 15-20 minutes. The pear was then removed and set aside and allowed to cool before being plated.


Friday, 14 February 2014

' deconstructed LEMON MERINGUE PIE .'

Deconstruction of a Lemon Meringue Pie - Lemon Curd , Crumbled short crust pastry , Toasted Meringue, Crumbled meringue , Lemon gelato , Lemon zest , Lemon sherbet and micro lemon balm leaves. 

                   Those that follow the blog or have browsed before may remember the deconstructed carrot cake. Lately this dish has attracted attention and raced up the most viewed in particular the states. Well I decided to release the second of my deconstructed desserts ' Lemon meringue pie'. In this dish I've pulled apart an old classic pie in a modernist fashion played with the elements of the recipe and presented the peoples favourite pie deconstructed. There are four lemon elements and two meringue elements, and there is the lemon balm leaves and of course the crumbled pie base. Lemon meringue is one one of my lovely wife Melanie's favourite dessert pies and she gave this dish a big thumbs up, with comments of incredible if I recall proudly.
                  The lemon gelato was the first prep and was started the night before by juicing some lemons and in a saucepan adding the juice and half that amount of sugar. This was gently brought to the simmer reducing by a third until thick and syrupy before being set aside to cool. In the meantime in a bowl I beat egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy, to this I added some cream and milk and poured the mixture into a saucepan on low to medium heat stirring while cooking until the custard becomes thick and coats the back of the spoon. The custard was then removed from the heat and the lemon syrup was added gradually before pouring the mix into an airtight container. The mixture was allowed to cool before being placed into the freezer overnight, the next morning the the gelato was scooped onto a blender and processed until smooth before being poured back into the airtight container to be placed in the freezer for a further four hours.
                While this was freezing I let egg whites stand in a bowl at room temperature for half an hour before beating the egg whites with a little lemon essence, and cream of tartare on medium in an electric mixer until soft peak stage. Gradually I beat in some sugar tablespoon at a time on high to form stiff peak stage. I then spooned the meringue into a piping bag with a large star nozzle fitted and piped the meringue in strips onto a baking paper lined flat tray. The meringues were then placed into a 140 deg.c. oven and bake for 45-50 minutes until hard, dry and set. The oven was turned off and the meringues were left to harden in the oven with the door closed for around an hour before being removed and set aside to fully cool. Once cooled I broke some large pieces apart and toasted them and crumbled some more into a large crumb. The lemon curd was next and was made by placing butter, sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water avoiding the bowl from touching the water I cooked, stirring constantly for around five minutes dissolving all the sugar. The bowl was then removed from the heat whisking in beaten eggs the mixture was returned to the heat and cooked for a further 8 or so minutes until the curd coats the back of a spoon.
                 To make the sweet short crust pastry crumb I simply brought flour, butter and sugar together in a food processor to make a fine crumb. To this I added egg yolks and brought the dough together, this was then turned out on to a floured board and rolled out to 5mm thick and placed between baking paper and placed in the fridge for half an hour. The pastry was then removed and baked until golden before being crumbed fine. The lemon sherbet is a mix of caster sugar, lemon oil, and a little citric acid. This was placed in a coffee grinder and ground to a fine powder.


Grilled garlic & ginger Scampi , Smoked salmon mousse , Avocado & Ginger mint puree , Edible sand , dried nori and pea greens.    

                   Summer inspired seafood entree of garlic and ginger grilled scampi accompanied by a smoked salmon mousse and avocado puree. Keeping with flavour of the sea I served an edible sand made from crumbs and other goodies of sea nature such as salts, dried fish, seaweed etc. The avocado puree remains fresh on the palette with a hint of ginger mint to lift it as well as lime juice, instead of the ever so popular guacamole pairing of avocado and garlic.                                                                        
                   Halving an avocado and removing the seed, I scooped the flesh from the skin into a blender with a little cream, lime juice, fresh ginger mint and a little seasoning. This was bended to form a smooth lime green puree nice and creamy. I then split a large scampi in half lengthways and cleaned the head cavities of the scampi halves. Making a basting sauce from butter, minced garlic and ginger I coated the flesh of the tail meat and filled the head cavity. I then placed the scampi flesh side up on a flat tray and placed the tray under the grill to cook for around 8-10 minutes, basting the meat every 2 minutes while their cooking. Once their cooked I removed the tray from under the grill and let them rest. In the meantime I placed some cream cheese, cream and smoked salmon in a blender and blended the mixture to a mousse consistency. To make the edible sand I mixed in a bowl some panko crumb, bread crumb, black and white sea salt, pink salt, ground dried fish, ground dried nori seaweed, evaporated sugar cane juice and wakame miso oil. The miso oil is simply sesame oil mixed with wakame miso paste and is rubbed through the crumb mix just before serving.                                                                
                    I plated this by swiping the top half of the plate with chilled avocado and ginger mint puree. I then arranged the scampi halves on the plate showing the succulent tail meat to the diner. With the salmon mousse I made four quenelles and arranged them between everything else on the plate and garnishing them with a slim strand of dried nori seaweed. With a spoon I carefully placed mounds randomly on the plate of the edible sand  and then finished the plate off with some fresh pea greens.