Friday, 30 May 2014


Chilli spiked Chocolate pudding, Nasturtium blooms, Watermelon Radish greens, Olive oil and Aged Balsamic vinaigrette and vanilla salt. 

                    This creation came about from a conversation I had with mum about a week ago or so at my cousins sons first birthday celebration. We were talking about our common interest food, and how she feels so strongly about the Mediterranean food culture, the simplicity, the whole food ethics and so on but how times are changing even over there. People are becoming more willing to participate in the unusual or the un-tried. How our children's tastes have been exposed to a greater number of food combinations than any generation in the past. The conversation went on and mum made a reference to how chocolate is being applied in many different ways now from just the humble chocolate bar, and she went on to state that we are now seeing chocolate in beer and wine, who knows whats next. At the time I'm looking a bowl of fresh garden salad on the table and mind starting ticking. When I got home I got onto the laptop to see if there were any chocolate salad recipes out there and low and behold there was a photo of a chocolate salad in a blog entry from years back by the food ideas group. So with a bit of improvisation and my adaptations I came up with this simple chilli spiced chocolate salad.                    
                    For this prep I started with the base for the chocolate pudding by gently heating some cream in a saucepan and adding cocoa powder, chopped de-seeded red chillies and melted bitter sweet chocolate, mixing to incorporate. Allowing time for the chilli to infuse, I then strained the mixture removing the chilli and placing the mixture back into the saucepan. To set the pudding I wanted something to be able to cut cubes but also have a velvet mouth feel, so I used carrageenan both iota and kappa which gave me tenderness with rigidness. I added the gums to the chocolate cream and while whisking, I brought the mixture to 80 degrees C. before removing from the heat and pouring into a plastic mould. This was then placed in the fridge to chill and set. To accent this pudding I foraged the vegetable garden for some nasturtium leaves and baby radish greens, both having a peppery bite to them each. Once the pudding was set, it was un-moulded, diced into bite size cubes and dressed in a vinaigrette of olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar, then all the ingredients were tossed together and plated. The salad was then seasoned with a little vanilla salt, something I had prepared some months ago by infusing salt with vanilla beans in a container sealed over time, bringing out a delicate sweetness and aroma to the salt.



Crispy Tempura battered Melon with Chorizo yoghurt, Balsamic vinegar pearls, Jalapeno and cilantro.

                  This is another one of those left over summer dishes inspired by the flavours of Mexico. The pairing of melon with any spanish or Italian cold cut always works well and this pairing is no exception. The sweet flavoured melon is encapsulated in a crispy light tempura batter and the spicy pork flavours coming from the chorizo yoghurt along with the kick from the peppers and the zing from the balsamic pearls makes for a great snack and could possibly be used as finger food in small portion sizes. if I did a take two, I would most likely exchange the balsamic pearls for a lime preparation of some sort giving the dish a citrus zesty element more true to the mexican theme.                                            
                   I started with the yoghurt sauce with this one, pulling apart some spanish chorizo sausages and frying them off to render the fat from them. Once the sausage meat was cooked through I removed them from the stove, draining and reserving the fat that rendered off while cooking. This was then cooled in the fridge until mostly solid, while this was cooling I prepared an emulsifier by bringing some milk to a simmer, shearing in some gellan at 6% and whisking to dissolve. Once dissolved this was poured into a container and allowed to set fully in the fridge 20-30 minutes. Then into a mixing bowl I added some 1/2 cup of plain natural yoghurt, 2 tbsp. of gellan milk and the reserved solidified chorizo oil. This was beaten to form a thick orangey yellow cream consistency and then placed in the fridge to chill before serving. To make the pearls I used the cold oil spherefication technique that I've used before, for information on this see 'tags' for explanation. Next I prepared the melon by slicing into rectangle shapes approx. 2cm wide, 1/2 a cm thick and 4 cm long, I coated these in arrowroot flour and set aside to soak the starch while I heated the frying oil and made a quick batter. For my batter I placed a cup of seasoned plain flour in a mixing bowl and with a whisk I gradually added some sweet apple cider, whisking to form a runny batter consistency. After testing the oil I coated the starched melon pieces in the batter and deep fried them until golden in colour before removing and draining on paper towel. To serve I smeared the centre of the plate with the chorizo yoghurt using a off set pallet knife.
Placing the pieces of battered melon on top of the sauce and arranging the accompaniments of thinly sliced jalapeno peppers, balsamic vinegar pearls and fresh cilantro leaves.

Saturday, 24 May 2014


Sweet Apple cider poached Clams in Pea Dashi sauce with Pea butter, Shelled sweet peas, Fennel blossom and Thai Purple Basil flowers.

                      This little taster dish taking you from the shores to the garden bed doesn't look like too much has gone into it and this would be a great misconception and in fact is an example of the way contempory cooking is going. This dish is actually quite refined in the flavours and the techniques to reach the outcome. Modernists chefs or cooks out there today instead of just grouping ingredients together are dissecting individual ingredients, pulling them apart so to speak and refining or enhancing individual elements of a particular ingredient. In this dish the humble sweet pea has been tampered with dividing the watery part of a pea from its solid starches, in doing this the sweet, grassy flavours of a pea are more enhanced as the flavour is not diluted in all the starch of a pea. When this pea water thats been extracted is then enhanced with kombu seaweed and bonito fish flakes, ( the ingredients of a dashi broth) and then vacuum sealed and allowed to impart in the pea water via a 53 deg. c. sous vide bath, the resulting taste of this pea water is just incredible. Thicken this water up to a sauce consistency and serve with Sweetened cider poached clams for a heavenly taste sensation.                                                                      
                     I began making this dish by cooking some sweet peas in boiling water until soft and tender. Once drained I cooled the peas in a chilled water bath, drained and pureed in a blender with the smallest amount of water, just enough to help the blending process. This was then placed into a cheese cloth lined colander allowing the puree to drain its liquid, towards the end the pulp was squeezed through the cloth to get the remaining pea water. This process was then repeated with the collected water another couple of times until most of the solid matter was out of the water, leaving the water a vibrant lime green colour. The solids captured in the cheese cloth was then scraped into a bowl and set aside in the fridge, this is the pea butter. This separation is done using a centrifuge in a commercial kitchen and gives a more pure result and it would be a true statement if the purist would say my primitive separation doesn't have the same effect. But for those of us that can't afford a centrifuge for home cooking can still appreciate the concept to a certain point. The pea water was then frozen solid into ice cubes before being placed into a food grade plastic pouch along with a piece of dried kombu kelp and some bonito flakes. The pouch was then vacuum sealed and placed into a 53 degree C. sous vide bath for 30 minutes allowing the dashi flavours to infuse with the now defrosted pea water. The pea dashi was then  removed from the pouch and strained into a saucepan which was then brought to a slow simmer and then removed from the heat. With a small amount I made a paste with a little arrowroot flour adding this back to the dashi and returning the saucepan to heat for a minute, whisking to thicken the sauce. The sauce was then set aside. Just before serving I placed a saucepan on a medium heat with enough sweet apple cider to cover some clams, when the cider reached a simmer I placed the clams and chopped shallots to the cider and placed a lid on the pot poaching the clams until they open up. These were then removed from the stove and using a slotted spoon placed into a small pool of the dashi sauce in the centre of the plate, Smearing some of the warmed pea butter to accompany and finishing the plate with a forage from the backyard garden adding a hint of anise with the fennel blossom bursting with fennel flavoured pollen and some tiny purple basil flowers also carrying the flavour of its origin.                                  

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


King Island Diary Roaring Forties Blue cheese with Olive Caramel sauce, Salt cured Baby Roma tomatoes, Melon confit, Smoked Black Muscat grape, Young Celery leaves and Baby coriander.

               I'm not a real fan of blue moulded cheeses and I put it down to that first experience. I can recall mine vividly as my German father was born in Tilsit he would some times be giving by his german friends or buy himself Tilsiter or Cambazola. I was the the later also known as 'blue brie' needed to be vacuum sealed, locked up, frozen or something, when that came out of the packet the two cats ran away. The smell was of rotten socks and vomit and my dads breath after eating the tiniest piece, can't be described here, this kind of put me off blue mould cheese. Until this one popped up from this respectable cheese maker, its creamy and mild with a sweet nutty aftertaste and no repulsive odours. So this was marked down the other day and I picked up a wedge, to do some pairing exercises.
Now what was I to pair with this cheese and I foraged through the fridge. When you have children your fridge tends to store some unseasonal items, such as the rockmelon that Caleb our 6 yo. takes to school every day despite it being nearly the start of winter. Or the baby Roma tomatoes, or the black muscat grapes at the bottom of the crisper. Its quite insane the world our kids are being brought into if you really look into it. The children of today don't know seasonal foods as they see their favourite bright coloured sweet fruit or vegetable, supplied almost all year round in our supermarkets. Will this in time bring about whole new food pairings in the cooking of the future. Anyway it happens to be that these ingredients are well known match makers with cheeses and so I set out to make an 'unseasonable offerings'. Wanting to incorporate olives in the dish, I decided to go with a sauce I had seen done before
infusing olives in a caramel sauce.                                                                                                              
               Most of the preparations in this dish required about the same time so these can be done in any order . Below I have listed the preparations for this dish.                                                                                
Smoked Muscat grape- I put together a boat from aluminium foil and placed some dampened hickory saw dust into the boat and waited for my smoker to heat up. I then placed the boat in the bottom of the smoker and waited until the smoker was full of smoke. Placing a grape on baking paper over a metal bowl of ice and into the smoker on a wire rack above the boat. I smoked the grape with a low heat on the burner for about 5-6 minutes and then switched the burner off and continued to smoke the grape for another 5-6 minutes before removing and cooling at room temperature.
Salt cured tomatoes- For these I first got a saucepan of salted water on the boil, then making a tiny cross incision with a paring knife, so just the skin was cut. These were then put into the boiling water for about 2 minutes, the skins were just starting to come away from the flesh. I removed them from the saucepan and placed them into a chilled water bath before removing the skins with ease. the skinless tomatoes were then drained and placed into a bowl of kosher salt covering them partially. They were then placed into the fridge to cure for around 30-40 minutes before being rinsed under a slow trickle of cold water to wash off the salt, they were now ready to serve.                                                                         
Melon confit- To make this I set the sous vide water bath to 53 degree C. and in a vacuum sealed plastic pouch I placed melon shavings about 2m thick and frozen rockmelon juice with a little rice wine vinegar, this was cooked at set temperature for 30 minutes before being removed from the pouch. The shavings were rinsed under cold water to remove the juice and then rolled into a scroll and dressed in a little olive oil and seasoned with salt.                                                                                                                 
Olive caramel sauce- This sauce was adding 2/3 cup of white sugar with about 3 tbsp. of water to a heavy based sauce pan on a medium heat until all the sugar had dissolved and there was a cloudy syrup, being sure not to touch the pan up to this stage. When the sugar starts to bubble I turned the heat up to high and while stirring cooked the caramel until it was a beautiful amber colour. I then added 1/4 cup of black olive puree stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate, the olive caramel was then removed from the heat and I added a touch of water to form a more sauce consistency. This sauce is served at room temperature.                                                                                                                             

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

' Adaptation of THE TIRAMISU .'

Dessert of Tiramisu cream custard on Coffee Genoise sponge, Chocolate & Coffee Macarons, Coffee marscapone cream, Cocoa, Hazelnut chocolate shavings and Coffee syrup.

              For this plated dessert I've done my adaptation of the Italian dessert the tiramisu. Taking the general concept of the marscapone and coffee flavours, presenting them in a custard and sponge form, accompanied by coffee and chocolate flavoured macarons. The macarons were really the inspiration to the whole dessert as over the past few rainy cloudy days we've had here I've been trying to conquer the baking of a modern day macaron. The few batches you see here were of the best quality and I used a recipe I found on the net for these dividing the mixture after adding the almond meal and icing sugar, adding the flavourings at this stage. I can't find the original site I found this recipe to give them the credit, but I've tried a few and this seems to be the formula. The tiramisu cake was an after thought and was a combination of a coffee soaked coffee genoise sponge rather than the traditional coffee soaked sponge fingers. Topped with a traditional tiramisu cream predominantly of marscapone cream, egg yolks, cream and sugar, but set with agar to form a custard. The accompaniments are coffee marscapone cream and coffee syrup.                                                                                                          
           I began this dish one night last week by separating 4 eggs, into bowls whites in one and the yolks in the other. Covering each with paper towel wrap I placed the bowls in the fridge over night. The next morning I removed the whites from the fridge and left them on the bench at room temperature for several hours before making the macarons. This process is called ageing the whites and allows them to reach maximum volume when whipped. I greased and lined flat baking trays with baking paper. The baking paper was pre stencilled with 3cm circles all two inches apart, the paper was then turned ink side down on to the greased baking trays. I then whisked the egg whites to a soft peak in an electric mixer bowl, gradually adding a quarter cup of caster sugar while continuing to whisk until the sugar had dissolved. In a bowl I sifted together 1& 1/4 cups of almond meal, with 1 & 1/2 cups icing sugar. I then folded in half of the almond meal mixture in to the egg whites until it was just combined then adding the other half. I then halved the macaron mixture into two bowls, in one I added half a tablespoon of powered coffee and mixed to incorporate and in the other I added 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and mixed to incorporate. I then spooned each mixture into separate bags snipping the end of one and piping onto one of the baking trays. I did the same with the other flavour, piping on to the other tray. These were left to rest for 30-40 minutes before being baked at 130 degrees C. for 20 minutes or until the foot of the macaron had set hold, they were then cooled and transferred to an air tight container to settle over night. The next morning I prepared the ganache by bringing full cream to just on the boil before removing and pouring over chopped bitter sweet chocolate, stirring to mix and then I let sit for a minute before adding a little butter and stirred until smooth. I divided the ganache into two bowls and added a little instant coffee to one of the bowls . They were then placed into the fridge to set for half an hour and then piped onto their respective macaron shells.                                                                                                                              I then went on to make the genoise by whisking in a bowl 2 eggs with 160g of caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of instant coffee until thick and creamy and sugar was dissolved. To this I added 50g of self raising flour and mixed to incorporate, this was then baked on a lined shallow baking tray in a 160 degree C. oven for about 8-10 minutes until it sprung back on touch. This was then removed and set aside to cool. Next I placed 180g of heavy cream, 1 tbsp. of vanilla essence, 2 tsp. of agar agar powder and 220g of marscapone in a saucepan bringing gently to a simmer, and then removed from the heat .       In a bowl I whisked together the 4 egg yolks left over from the macaron prep and 90g of caster sugar, until thick and pale. This was then added to the cream mixture and mixed to incorporate before being returned to the heat and gently heated through whisking to keep from over cooking. This was then poured into a mould and set in the fridge before being sliced to serve. The coffee syrup was brewed coffee and sugar brought to a simmer and reduced to a thick syrupy sauce. And the cream was marscapone, coffee and icing sugar whipped and piped.                                                                        To serve the genoise was cut to a rectangle portion and soaked in some of the coffee syrup. The same size rectangle was sliced from the tiramisu custard and placed on top of the sponge, this was then piped with coffee cream and drizzled with the coffee syrup and sprinkled with shaved hazelnut chocolate.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Ras-El-Hanout spiced Australian Camel mince patty, Caramelised onions, Fresh tomato, Green oak lettuce on an Oven baked Panino Roll. 

          I had overheard one day about a couple of months ago now, some my friends talking about how one our supermarket chains sells Camel meat burgers and my ears pricked and immediately this was on my food foraging list. But as time went by, the stores I had visited didn't stock the meat and thought drifted to the back of the pile with al the others. Until the other day I was out shopping in the neighbouring suburbs shopping centre with my youngest son Levi, looking for Mothers Day gifts. When I came across the camel meat burger patties you see below. Camel is very lean and has 1-2% fat, as opposed to beef which has 7-8% fat. This purchase prompted me to research some North african spice blends that I could flavour the camel meat and reform into mini patties for a Saudi slider or mini camel burger. Ras el hanout, which translates to 'head of the shop' originated in Meghribi villages of North Africa and is a blend of any where between 20 to 27 herbs and spices, with quantities varying with the maker. This is a secret guarded from one spice shop to the next and blending is considered an art. Ras el hanout is used for poultry, red meat, game, rice and couscous. The roll I used was store bought par baked and is a Panino roll which in plural 'panini' is the name given to the Italian bread called ciabatta which has been shaped into small rolls.                                                                        
           This saudi slider was put together by making the Ras el hanout spice mix. To make this I used my own interpretation recipe using the main herbs and spices. I placed black peppercorns, ground ginger, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, cardamom seeds, smoked paprika, whole cloves, ground turmeric, sea salt and allspice into a spice blender and blended until mixed. I then removed the pre-formed camel mince patties and placed the mince into a bowl mixing through the spice mix until all the spices had incorporated. In a medium hot frying pan I added some unsalted butter and sauteed off some thinly sliced white onion rings until soft, sweated and caramelised. I then removed them from the pan and set them aside until serving of which they were reheated gently. Next a placed the panino roll into a 220 degree C. oven and baked the roll for 6 minutes, at 3 minutes I brushed the top of the panino with olive oil to brown the crust and finish the baking. This was then removed and allowed to cool until I was able to slice the the roll in half horizontally with a bread knife and then butter each half with good quality unsalted butter immediately while still warm. I foraged my backyard veggie garden for the lettuce leaf, which I simply broke apart to serving size, washed and drained. I sliced some tommy toe variety tomatoes which are a medium sized tomato. I then formed small patties from the spiced camel mince and fried them off in a little olive oil for about 3 minutes each side before removing from the pan and setting aside to rest for a 1 or 2 while I reheated the onions.
              To plate I simple placed the base of the roll in the centre of the plate, topping with a bed of lettuce for the the Ras el hanout spiced camel burger to sit. The caramelised onions were then placed on top of the patty and then a slice of tomato. The burger was then finished with the top of the roll.This was an extremely tasty burger that I will be having again in big form with a yoghurt/garlic sauce. The meat was similar to lamb but I think probably better and a little bit gamey.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

' 53 deg . C . PINK LING in ICHIBAN DASHI .'

53 degree C. sous vide cooked Pink Ling fillet in Ichiban Dashi with Aubergine & wakame miso dumplings, Wakame seaweed and lemon zest.

           This was a little Japanese influenced dish, that uses the dashi and miso dumplings to accompany an otherwise delicately flavoured fillet of fish. Ichiban dashi or 'first sea stock' is the stock collected from two ingredients Kombu, which is a type of kelp and Katsuobushi, dried bonito fish flakes. Once the stock is made a second stock can be made using the same ingredients called 'Niban dashi'. Dashi is economical and extremely easy and quick to make in comparison to other stocks where you have to boil carcasses or roast bones or fry prawn heads, dashi takes just about 30 minutes to make and is highly nutritious. The element of umami, considered one of the five basic favours in Japanese cuisine, is present in dashi by the use of Katsuobushi which contains high levels of sodium inosinate which has been identified as a source of umami.                                                                                                          
         To make this dish I started with roasting a whole eggplant in a 220 degree C. oven for about 20-25 minutes until the skin were roasted and separated from the pulp which was soft. I removed the eggplant from the oven and allowed to cool a little before peeling off the skin. I removed the seeds from the pulp and placed into the blender with some wakame miso and a little water and blended to form a runny puree. This was added to a mix of wheat and buckwheat flour to form a dough. Next I made the dashi by placing three strips of dried kombu kelp with 4 cups of water in a saucepan to soak for 15 minutes. I then place the saucepan on the stove and brought the water and kelp up to just before boiling point before removing from the heat and adding half a cup of bonito flakes scattering over the top. After about 3-4 minutes the katsuobushi had sunk to the bottom, I then strained the stock through a cheese cloth lined strainer and set aside for serving. While the eggplant was roasting a set the sous vide machine to 53 deg. C. and placed a fillet of pink ling with a little crushed ginger and some butter into vacuum sealed plastic pouch and cooked the fish at 53 degree C. for 30 minutes. To serve a placed the spent ingredients from the dashi back into the saucepan with 4 cups of water and brought the water to the boil, simmering for around 10 minutes to form a second sea stock called the Niban dashi. While the dashi was simmering I formed little rounded balls with the dough and once the dashi was ready and strained. The dashi was returned to the simmer and the dumplings were cooked in the dashi for about 2-3 minutes.
      To serve I reheated the ichiban dashi , pouring the dashi into a flat bottom bowl. I then placed the Pink Ling fillet in the centre of the bowl, arranging some seaweed and the dumplings around the fish. I then topped the fish with a little lemon zest.


Sunday, 11 May 2014


Pan seared Wild caught Diver Scallop, Parsnip puree, Kumquats, Meyer Lemon, Imperial Mandarin, Fresh Watercress and Horseradish bubbles.

               This little taster dish has zip and zest, tantalising your taste buds with each mouthful. Using the winter citrus fruits made available at this time of the year, to accompany the sweet tasting diver scallop paired up perfectly and that slight pungency from the horseradish bubbles along with the peppery notes from the cress gave the dish a great complexity of flavours. This dish was a bit of a throw together from the left over scallops from the other days ceviche and the fruit a ha picked up at the local markets to do the miracle berry tasting. I had seen similar pairings done before and more recently by a chef from the U.S.                                                                                                                                  
                 To put this together I made the puree first by boiling some parsnips in salted water until they were soft and tender. I then placed the parsnips with a little melted butter and some cream into a blender and blended to form a puree which was then corrected for seasoning and set aside. I prepared the citrus fruit next, by thinly slicing the cumquats and segmenting the other fruit these were then set aside. Just before plating I foraged the backyard garden for fresh water cress. The cress was washed and dressed in a little olive oil. I then prepared the horse radish bubbles by juicing some fresh horse radish placing into a wide mouth tumbler adding some rice wine vinegar, water, salt, sugar and soy lecithin. With a stick blender, I  then mixed the liquid on high to form the bubbles. Heating a small skillet on a medium high heat I seared the sea scallop on both sides in a little butter for 45 seconds or so, just long enough to turn the flesh opaque and form a caramelised crust.                                                                                  
                 To plate I made a swipe on the plate with the parsnip puree arranging the citrus on top. I then placed the scallop adjacent and top with the horse radish bubbles. I then garnished the dish using the dressed watercress and seasoned with smoked sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Friday, 9 May 2014


Poached Chicken tenderloin, Garlic chive & yoghurt mayo, Salad of Purple Kale, Red onion, Detroit Globe Beetroot, Purple carrot, Heirloom Radish and Radish baby greens.

                       This dish was solely inspired by our Autumn garden harvests, now thriving the cold nights have come and the greens are crisp and fresh. We will have purple, green and tuscan kale growing perpetually for most of the winter now and radishes are coming on with stagnated plant outs of a few different heirloom varieties. All this action in the garden has prompted me to put together a pink and purple accented salad for an accompaniment to poached chicken for a light lunch. Vegetables that are purple in colour like the original carrot have a pigment which is very high in anti oxidants, not to mention have great vibrant colourful appeal.                                                                                            
                       This was a fairly simple dish to throw together and to begin with I placed a pot of chicken stock on a low to medium heat adding to this chopped onions, bay leaf, carrot and celery. Once heated I added some chicken tenderloins and poached them in the stock for about 15 minutes. They were then removed and placed into the fridge to chill. To make the yoghurt mayo I first started by making a whole egg mayonnaise by blending whole eggs, white vinegar, mustard powder and salt until it had combined, I then drizzled olive oil, while blending on a medium speed to form a creamy consistency. Once the mayo was ready I spooned the mayo into a small mixing bowl adding a little greek yoghurt and some finely chopped garlic chives, this was then placed into the fridge to chill. To make the salad I prepared the vegetables, firstly I peeled the beetroot and pickled the beet over a low simmer in equal parts rice wine vinegar and water with a little sugar and a pinch of salt until tender before draining a cutting the beet brunoise. The carrot was sliced to thin julienne and radishes cut into wedges and slices. The red onion was sliced thinly and the kale and baby radish greens washed. All vegetables except the beetroot was tossed in a little olive oil and some of the yoghurt mayo before serving. To plate I arranged the pink autumn salad on the plate, placing the chicken on top. I then spooned the yoghurt mayo over the chicken, seasoning with cracked back pepper.

                                                            plated without the purple kale

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


Ceviche style Wild caught Sea scallop in Persian Cucumber juice with Coconut and ginger sorbet, Baby carrots, Cucumber ribbons, Pork crackle and Fresh Water cress.

                    Ceviche is a Spanish term used for a seafood dish, typically fish which has been cooked using a curing method of citrus juices, rather than heat. This dish is popular to polynesia and central and south America, although the origin is still disputed it probably lies in the area of present day Peru, amongst the Moche, a small coastal civilisation that began to flourish 2000 years ago. It is now documented that the Moche apparently used the fermented juice of the banana passionfruit and recent findings of during the time of the Inca empire a fermented beverage made from quinoa grains called 'chicha' was used to cure fish consumed with salt and aji an Andean chilli. And it is proposed the natives simply switched to citrus juices brought over by the Spanish colonists. Ceviche nowadays is used for a number of different meats and shellfish accompanied by various ingredients. This method of cooking with acid should be practised with only the freshest ingredients and under extreme hygienic care to avoid food poisoning. The end result is well worth the extra attention to cleanliness.                        
                  I started preparing this dish by making the coconut and ginger sorbet. For this I simply placed coconut milk, sugar and sliced ginger into saucepan and heated gently, without boiling. Once the sugar was dissolved the saucepan was then removed from the stove and a lid was placed on and the ginger was allowed to steep in the milk for an hour. I then poured the milk through a sieve and placed into a metal container and allowed to freeze for 6 hours, forking the mix every two hours to break the ice up. Next I placed a piece of scored pork belly skin, salted into a 230 deg. c. oven until the skin turned to a puffy, golden crackle of which I then removed from the oven and set aside. In the mean time I prepared the scallops by slicing thinly, layering them in a bowl.To make the marinade I simply mixed together lime juice, caster sugar, salt, thinly sliced shallot and a little olive oil. This was poured over the scallops and allowed to marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes. During this time I juiced a persian cucumber with a little seasoning before straining through a sieve and set aside in the fridge to chill before serving. I then prepared the vegetables slicing thin ribbons of cucumber with a vegetable peeler and thin slices of baby carrots. Both these then dressed with a little olive oil. The water cress was harvested from the backyard and simply washed and dressed with oil also.                                                    
                 To plate this dish I layered the ceviche at the bottom of a shallow soup bowl placing a quenelle of sorbet on top before carefully arranging the vegetables and crackle around the scallops and pouring a little amount of the chilled cucumber juice to fill the bottom of the bowl.


Fruit platter of Miracle Berry, Kumquat, Tahitian Lime and Meyer Lemon served with Kumquat, Lime & Lemon syrups and fresh ginger mint leaves.

                        Making this dish ticked a box on my to do list finally after a number of years. The miracle berry was first made known to me about 12 or so years ago by my sister whom has a friend that is the owner of 'tropical fruit world', located on the north coast of New South Wales. Tropical fruit world were harvesting these fruits many many years ago and my sister was lucky enough to experience the berries unique properties, prompting me to place this on my to do list. Last weekend we had a friend down staying with us from Townsville and we decided to pay a visit to our local markets on the Sunday. Amongst the many vendors selling plants,seedlings and fruit trees I spotted out of the corner of my eye two small shrubs, one with the berry you see still attached. Which was very rare for this time of the year as they tend to fruit in summer and then again in the onset of spring. So for just $10 AUS. I killed two birds with one stone and was now the owner of my own miracle berry bush with a berry to try for a bonus. For those that are unfamiliar with the fruit , miracle berry contains a protein called miraculin that, when eaten, temporarily effects the tongues sweetness receptors making foods that normally are acidic or sour, sweet. At a neutral ph, miraculin binds and blocks the receptors but at a low ph. (sour foods), the miraculin binds protons and is able to activate the receptors, making these foods sweet. The West African berry itself has a low sugar content and tastes quite tart but having said that miraculin is used commercially as a sugar substitute. An attempt in the 70's was made to commercialise the fruits ability to turn sour foods sweet without a single caloric penalty, but was ended when the ( FDA) declared the berry as a food additive. Controversial claims were made that the project was sabotaged and the research burgled by the sugar industry to avoid loss in business.                                        
                       For this application I used some of the acidic winter citrus that was available in abundance at the markets. I prepared some syrups from Kumquats, lemon and lime by simple juicing the fruits and separately bringing each one to a simmer, removing a little of the juice and adding some arrowroot flour to form a paste. The paste was then placed back into the juice and simmered for a further few minutes, whisking to form a thick syrup. This process was done to each of the three fruits. Next I prepared samples of each fruit to also go on the platter, segmenting the lemon and lime and slicing the kumquat in half. Apart from a quick forage in the back yard for some ginger mint leaves this platter was complete. This was a very simple application but a very theatrical one at that. After consuming the berry, kumquats tasted like marmalade, limes were like key lime pie and the meyer lemons could have been mistaken for lemonade. A truly amazing experience and one that should not be passed up if the occasion arises. Unforgettable.