Saturday, 30 August 2014


Corn yeast risen doughnut, piped with Creamed Popcorn filling, topped with Salted Caramel icing and Crumbled popcorn. 

                      This dessert came from the result of two dishes on the same day colliding. I had set out to make corn yeast doughnuts on the day but with a simple sweetened cream corn custard filling. I also while on the corn as the subject made a clam and corn chowder and set out to attempt the great Grant Achatz dessert from the Alinea restaurant, 'liquid popcorn with caramel froth'. Although while making the liquid popcorn I had scaled back the recipe to a third, in doing this the ratio of liquid was wrong and with the starch in the corn the mix became a thick custard consistency instead of a drinkable one. The mixture had turned to a perfect piping bakers custard consistency only tasted of buttered popcorn from the movies. This prompted me to ditch making the Achatz recipe for the time being and use the creamed popcorn for the filling in the corn yeast doughnuts, so it went from there and I managed to finish the chowder also.          
                    So to make this dessert I first prepared the dough for the doughnuts and then while the dough was rising I prepared the filling by accident, followed by the salted caramel icing. Below is a list of the preparations, the ingredients and detailed methodology.

CORN YEAST DOUGHNUT- I first cut the kernels off a half cob of corn and mashed them in a small saucepan with a half cup of milk, this was then brought to the simmer and then removed from the heat, allowed to steep and infuse for 5 minutes before being strained, reserving 1/3 cup of corn infused milk. To this warm milk infusion I added 5g of granular yeast and 1 tbsp of caster sugar, mixing to combine, this was then set aside for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. In a mixing bowl I then whisked 1 egg until pale and thick, to this I added 50g of caster sugar, a pinch of salt, 15g of melted butter and the yeast corn milk mixture. This was then mixed to combine before adding 250g of 00 flour gradually, a half cup (62.5g) at a time to form a dough that came away from the side of the bowl but quite sticky to the touch. This was then covered and placed in warm place for an hour until doubled in size. I then flipped the dough over and recovered, allowing another half an hour. At this stage I heated some canola oil to 170C in a pot on the stove, rolled pieces of the dough into balls and flattening them to 1cm thick, using floured hands. These were then fried in the oil until golden in colour and cooked through the middle, once cooked the doughnuts were drained on paper towel and coated in caster sugar before being filled with creamed popcorn, iced with salted caramel icing and topped with crumbled popcorn.
CREAMED POPCORN FILLING- This was made by placing 60g of prepared popcorn, 3g of salt, 45g of butter, 30g of caster sugar and 375g of water into a medium saucepan and simmering on a medium heat for 5 minutes. This was then strained and then blended to form a paste, this was then placed in the fridge to chill before being spooned into a piping bag and piped into the centre of the doughnuts.
SALTED CARAMEL ICING- In a saucepan over a medium heat I melted 2 tbsp of butter, I then mixed in 3 tbsp of milk and 1/2 cup of brown sugar, his was boiled vigorously for a minute. I then removed the pot from the heat and beat in 1/2 a cup of confectioners sugar, 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and a 1/2  tsp of sea salt.
CRUMBLED POPCORN- This is a mixture of ground popcorn which was made using the coffee grinder, a little salt, icing sugar and powdered butter. The powered butter is a simple mix of melted clarified butter with N-zorbit which is a modified tapioca starch used in cooking to turn fats and oils into powders, in this case butter.


Italian Goats cheese coated in Fennel three-ways ( fresh herb, roasted seeds & fresh pollen ) served with Roasted beetroot reduction. 

                  These are some classic pairings presented in a little taster dish or cheese plate in a multi coarse menu. Fennel is the accent here and by using the different parts of the plant has given the three truffles a spectrum of contrast except with the same flavour base. Not only are there different textural differences between the three but also the potency and when the flavour hits you. For example the truffle which has been rolled in fresh fennel herb, the flavour is instant but refreshing and with an average aftertaste. Where as the truffle rolled in pollen combines flavours with the cheese further and gives a subtle flavour. The seeds on the other hand are crunchy in texture and pack a late punch with an everlasting aftertaste. The beetroot reduction is there to break the fennel flavour up and the beets have been roasted to bring out the sweetness.                                                                                                      
                  To make these goats cheese truffles is simple and all I did was combine 3 parts cheese to 1 part icing sugar, roll the mixture into bite size balls and coat with the three different fennel coatings. To make the fennel seed coating a mixed 1 part sesame seeds to 3 parts fennel seeds and toasted them in a hot skillet until showing some colour before I removed them from the skillet to cool. On a flat tray in the oven at 160C, I roasted some beetroots until soft and tender in side. While the beets were still hot but warm enough to handle I slipped their skins off and placed them into a blender with a splash of red wine and blended the beets to a puree. I then passed this through a sieve before reducing on low to med heat in a small saucepan, until thick and syrupy.

Friday, 29 August 2014


Backyard winter harvested salad of Pea greens & Flowers, Watercress, Sorrel, Yellow Chard, Sweet potato greens, Nasturtium leaves & Petals, Watermelon Radish and Supremes of Blood Orange & Tangelo.

                  For this post I've done a quick little winter garden inspired salad to accompany some fresh citrus I had bought from the grocers. This tasty salad of winter greens with peppery and lemon notes has been dressed with a blood orange vinaigrette and makes perfect for an appetiser as it gets all those saliva glands going and taste buds zinging. The nasturtium leaves and petals along with the watercress and radish give off peppery and mustard flavour notes adding a little spice and warmth to the dish.        
                  To make this salad I started with preparing the citrus, slicing both the blood orange and tangelo into supremes and placing into the fridge to chill. In a bowl I whisked together some olive oil, blood orange juice, salt, pepper and panela until well combined, this was set aside. Next I went for a walk down the backyard to the vegetable garden and had a little forage for the winter greens, radishes and flowers. These were washed, the radish I sliced thinly and dressed the salad greens in the blood orange vinaigrette. The greens, radish slices, flower petals and prepared citrus fruit supremes were then arranged onto a plate and seasoned with some cracked black pepper.
                 When it was photo shoot time, I went outside to capture the days natural light like I usually do. But this time I had forgotten that I had let the chooks out to to free range earlier on. Well at the end of the shoot I was taking some variation plating shots and experimenting with a white back ground,  when the curiosity and patience had got the better of the White Sussex and she had to check out the backyard salad. Upon a closer look she dove in a started eating the salad, picking the tangelo supreme first followed by a frenzy of thrashing beak work annihilating my salad.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Creamy Prawn Bisque served with Tempura Queensland banana prawn & asparagus spear, Dill and olive oil herb.

                  Inspired by an overload of collected frozen prawn heads and shells in our downstairs freezer and urgent need to free up some space, I decided to put together this full flavoured bisque. A creamy soup from french origin originally, the bisque was said to be a perfect way to use up imperfect crustaceans of which can not be sold at the markets. Traditionally a bisque was made by grinding the crustaceans to form a paste which was then used to thicken a soup stock. Usually served with crusty bread, I decided on swapping the bread for some more decadent offerings to be used for dipping into the bisque, tempura battered Queensland banana prawns and asparagus spears on skewers.
                  To make the bisque, I began by roasting the prawn heads and shells in a roasting dish for about 30 minutes until the shells were rich in orange colour and robust in flavour. In a heavy based saucepan I sauteed shallots, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, peppercorns, coriander seeds and salt in a little oil. To this I added crushed tomatoes, cayenne pepper, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and the prawn shells. This was cooked down a little before adding some brandy to deglaze the pot. Simmering gently this was reduced before adding some verjus and reducing some more. Once reduced I added some fish stock and simmered for 30 minutes. I then removed the pot from the stove and blended the stock to a puree of which I then strained and returned to the stove. I then simmered the pureed soup for a further 15 minutes until the bisque become rich in copper colour, to this I added some cream to round the flavours out and finish the mouthfeel. To make tempura I simply mixed together some flour and ice cold apple cider to form a batter in which I coated the prawns and asparagus spears lightly before deep frying in 170C oil until light golden colour.

Friday, 8 August 2014


Scallops cured in blended citrus juice and arranged with Blood orange supremes, Brunoised vegetables, Preserved lemon, Micro herbs and nori seaweed tile, served in a Blood orange sauce spiked with chilli.

                   I love Scallops cooked his way and when the blood oranges hit the shelves, I had to try this ceviche recipe which uses a blend of juice from citrus fruits, blood orange, limes and lemon together with a splash of verjus, This looks like a lot of prep for 3 scallops but this is surprisingly easy to prepare and there is no cooking involved, in 45 minutes you've got a very tasty seafood entree that looks alright too. Each component has its place and involvement in the end finish of the experience. Have a go at this dish while the oranges are at their juiciest, below is how simple it really is.                                          
                   Here is a list of the preparations in order of method.                                                                    
SCALLOP CEVICHE- In a glass bowl I whisked together 1/4 cup of blood orange juice, 2 tbsp each of lime juice, lemon juice and verjus, pinch of sugar and salt, until the salt and sugar dissolved. I then washed and pat dried the scallops placing them in the bowl of blended juice and covering the bowl with clear film. The bowl was then placed in the fridge and the scallops were allowed to cure for 45 minutes.                                                    
BLOOD ORANGE SAUCE- In the time the scallops are curing I made the the sauce and prepared the finishing accompaniments. To make the sauce I simply whisk together in bowl 1/4 cup of blood orange juice, 1/2 tbsp of each lemon, lime and verjus and olive oil, this was then seasoned and given a splash of tabasco sauce before being placed in the fridge to chill.
FINISHING- To accompany the scallops and finish the dish I prepared a micro brunoise of red radish and celery. Then thinly sliced some watermelon radish, cut a nori sheet into little 1/4 inch square tiles and cut blood oranges into half supremes and preserved lemon rind into little pieces. The final garnishes did not require preparation and consisted of young yellow celery leaves, dill fronds and opal basil blossom.

' food plays' WALDORF SALAD .'

Contempory Waldorf salad of Crisp Granny Smith apple, Roaring Forties Blue cheese, Roasted walnuts, Tender Crisp celery, Watercress and Blue cheese dressing. 

                    The waldorf salad is a classic salad that has endless possibilities of a reconstructed contempory twist to its presentation. The salad is traditionally made of apple, celery, walnuts and mayo on a bed of lettuce and was first created in the 1890's by Oscar Tschirky at the Waldorf Hotel in NYC. The are many variations using chicken, dates, grapes, sultanas etc. and the recipe I've chosen to recreate comes from a english restauranteur and owner of The British Larder. This variation uses the addition of the blue cheese through the mayo and as a crumbled accompaniment, which really stands up against the tang of the apple and the pepperiness of the watercress. This waldorf version delivers a diversity of textures and flavours that pack punch and harmonise collectively.
                   To make the salad I simply cored an apple slicing thinly into 2-3mm slices, these were lightly dressed in olive oil and lemon juice before being reassembled into an apple shape and chilled. Next I sliced the celery into 2-3mm matchsticks and reserved some young yellow leaves also dressing these in the oil and lemon juice before chilling. In a 180C oven I placed some walnuts on a flat tray and roasted them for about 10 minutes until nicely toasted and starting to release nut oils which intensify the flavour of the nut, these were then cooled, chopped roughly and set aside ready for plating. To make the dressing I creamed 1 egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 50g of Blue cheese, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, a pinch of sugar and salt, until smooth. Slowly I then added 50ml of olive oil and 100ml of sunflower oil while slowly whisking the mayo to form an emulsion, adding a tbsp of warm water if the mayo became to thick. The mayo was then chilled for half an hour before serving.                                    
                   To plate I placed the reassembled sliced apple in the centre of the plate, topping with young celery leaf, celery matchstick, sprig of watercress and a small thin tile of blue cheese. Around the apple I placed dollops of the blue cheese dressing at 12, 3, 6 and 9 0'clock, topping each with a different accompaniment. Next I arranged the matchsticks of celery, young celery leaves, watercress and crumbled blue cheese around the apple, scattering the roasted walnuts and seasoning the dish with a little cracked black pepper.                                      



 Local bay prawns in a Native lime berry, Chilli & Ginger sauce, aboard a Paperbark boat, served with Barley couscous and Captain Cooks spinach. 

                    This dish showcases some of the great indigenous foods we have been blessed with in our great country. Most of these indigenous bush-foods can only be found here too, making them a rare and cherished experience for me. In this little appetiser I use some fresh local bay prawns and marinate them in a marinade made of home grown native lime berries with chilli and ginger. These are cooked on the barbecue and served on a bed of barley couscous, which has been cooked in the liquor from steamed pipi's. And accompanied by some homegrown native spinach. The canoe was crafted from a trimmed sheet of bark from the paperbark tree in the front yard and made in similar fashion to the bark boats our indigenous people use for transport and to fish from. The boat was folded, pinned at both ends then soaked in water, before being moulded to shape and cured on a hotplate grill and set aside to harden.                                                  
                    I made the marinade by simmering Native lime berries, lime juice, caster sugar, salt pepper, red chilli paste, ginger paste and crushed garlic until reduced and slightly thickened. I then used a little of the sauce to form a paste with some corn starch and returned the paste to the sauce, stirring until the marinade thickens. I then removed the marinade placing in the fridge to chill before coating the green local peeled and deveined prawns and allowing to marinate in the fridge for an hour with half of the marinade and the remaining was set aside to be used as a plating sauce. The prawns were then cooked quickly on a hotplate basting with the sauce, once cooked they were placed two in a boat to be served. In a saucepan I placed a handful of pipis, some fresh thyme and chopped onions and steamed the pipis in a dry white wine. Once the shells were open I strained the cooking liquor and used the stock to cook the couscous. To finish I blanched the captain cooks spinach in pot of salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes before removing and steeping into an ice bath to retard the cooking process, the blanching removes most of the unwanted oxalic acid which gives native spinach a hairy mouthfeel if eaten raw, similar to the unripe bananas.                                                                                                                          

Monday, 4 August 2014


Baked mini Pumpkin filled with Pearl couscous, Red Quinoa, Puffed wild rice, Black truffles & truffle oil, Roasted chestnuts, Porcini mushrooms, Sage sprig and Viola flower. 

                 The mini pumpkin season finished months ago for us here in the southern hemisphere, but I happened to find them at the markets and couldn't resist. Actually a squash and referred to many as a winter squash and not a pumpkin, they make a perfect serving portion when stuffed with the filling of your choice and makes a great wholesome vegetarian meal. We had a go at growing a variety of these called 'golden nugget' last summer in our pumpkin and melon patch with some great success. We grew them trellised up and companioned with nasturtium, which encouraged the bees in for pollination and great for the kids to grow.                                                                                                                            
                I began making this dish with preparing the three grains in the filling, firstly I rinsed 1 cup of organic red quinoa, draining and then soaked the grains in 1 1/4 cups of water for 15 minutes. I then brought this to the boil, reducing the heat and covering, simmering for about 15 minutes until all the water was absorbed. I then removed the quinoa from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes before forking to loosen the grains. I then prepared the pearl couscous by simmering 1 part couscous to 2 parts water for 8-10 minutes until all the water had absorbed. For the puffed wild rice I simply placed a handful of wild rice into a hot skillet and toasted until they puffed, while tossing them around to avoid burning. These were then removed from the skillet and set aside. Next I prepared the pumpkin by slicing the top off and scooping the seeds out with a dessert spoon, the pumpkin and its top were then placed skin side up on a flat baking tray and roasted in a 170C oven for about 20 minutes, turning when needed. The pumpkin was the removed and set aside when ready and I then peeled and chopped some chestnuts to be roasted. In a pan I melted a little butter and sweat down some chopped onions and to this I added some sliced porcini mushrooms. When the mushrooms were ready, I added in the three prepared grains, roasted chestnuts, a little truffle oil, some shaved black truffles and a little rubbed sage. This was mixed together and then removed from the stove before filling the roasted pumpkin. The dish was then garnished with a sprig of baby sage leaves and a yellow viola flower.