Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mac n Cheese with fresh Garden Vegies!

250g Macaroni
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp butter
handful of grated Colby easy melt cheese
salt and pepper
From the garden:
6 baby leeks, white parts only, sliced thinly two fresh garlic cloves
1 cup blanched and hulled bread beans
1 cup hulled sugar snap peas
handful of lettuce, sliced
1/2 avocado diced

Boil the pasta
Meanwhile, saute the leeks and garlic in the butter and oil.
Add the lettuce, beans and peas.
When pasta is done, strain and add to pan with the vegies.
Add the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish with avocado

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spicy and Cool: Fruit Salad with long Pepper Cream

Before chillies arrived in the UK from South America, cooks used long pepper. I watched this recipe on Nigel Slaters BBC series where he travelled on a boat with the Peppermongers. The moral of this recipe is "Be bold" – as the cream takes a lot of the heat out of the spice. If you don't have long peppers go buy some they are something else. "Why am I slightly scared?" said Nigel Slater when presented with a peppery dessert, but on tasting it his fear turned to pleasure as he exclaimed “It’s not at all what I was expecting… it’s like a little bit of an adventure with hit after hit after hit…”


1 x 250ml pot of dollop cream (or crème fraiche)
4 tbsp brown sugar or raw caster sugar
5 cardamom seeds, crushed
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped from the pod
5 long pepper spikes, snapped, cracked and ground*
Mixed fresh fruit, to serve
Pistachios (optional)
*I bought my long peppers from an Australian supplier in South Australia.


1.Whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Mix the spices and vanilla seeds together.

2.Just before serving, fold the spice mixture into the cream, reserving a little to sprinkle on top for aroma.

3.Dust with icing sugar, particularly if serving the cream with tart fruit such as plums or cherries.

4.Serve with summer fruits, peaches, nectarines, mangoes, plums and/or cherries.

I add pistachios because I love a crunch to my dessert.

Scottish Savory Oatcakes

Savory oatcakes (or bannocks) are quintessentially Scottish. Perfect with some hearty cheese, smoked salmon and dill, cherry jam or chutney.

In Scotland, oatcakes are made on a girdle or by baking rounds of oatmeal on a tray. If the rounds are large, they are then sliced into triangular shapes. Oats are one of the few grains which grow well in the north of Scotland and were, until the 20th century, the staple grain used.

The texture may vary from rough to fine depending on how the oats are ground. Oatcakes may be slightly chewy or hard depending the water content and how long they are cooked.


225g oats
60g wholewheat flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g butter/olive oil margarine
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
60-80ml hot water


Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
Mix together the oats, flour, salt, sugar and bicarbonate of soda.
Add the butter and pulse in the food processor. This will make rolled oats finer into more of an 'oatmeal' as well.

Add the water (from a recently boiled kettle) bit by bit and combine until you have a somewhat thick dough that comes together. The amount of water varies; depending on the oats.

Sprinkle some extra flour and oats on a work surface and roll out the dough to approx. 1/2cm thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. The final number of oatcakes depends on the size of cutter you use. In a wonderfully Scottish way you can use an upturned whisky glass to make the perfect size!

Place the oat cakes on a baking tray and bake for appprox. 20-30mins. or until slightly golden brown.

Its nice if they are slightly chewy so be careful not to overbake.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Szechuan Pepper Salt with butterflied BBQ Prawns

Gary and Dad and I made these prawns on the weekend and they got demolished in about 5 minutes!

Sichuan pepper or Szechuan pepper, a common spice used in Asian cuisine, is derived from at least two species of the global genus Zanthoxylum, which belong in the citrus family. This did not surprise me because when I tried to take an objective smell of Gary's bowl of Sichuan Pepper Salt I detected a subtle citrus tang to the edge of its warm earthyness.

Szechuan Peppercorns
Murray River Salt flakes
Fresh green King Prawns

Dry roast the pods on a dry pan till they are smoking and aromatic but not burning.
Remove and powderize with the salt in a spice blender (mini coffee grinders work well).
Butterfly the prawns, leaving the shells on, and remove waste tube down the centre.
Drizzle with olive oil and BBQ till just cooked.
Sprinkle the Szechuan Pepper Salt over them to serve.

Fresh Prawns with Green Palm dipping sauce

Gary made these at our party on the weekend in Darook.


Fresh Prawns
1/2 cup Coriander finely chopped
1/2 cup Mint finely chopped
2 tbsp plum sauce

5 tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup chopped spring onion
2 tbsp finely grated ginger
1 birds eye chilli finely chopped
2 limes: zest and juice

Boil 1 cup water with the palm sugar to reduce.
Throw in each ingredient as it is chopped except the mint, coriander and plum sauce.
Boil till reduced by half.
Remove from heat and add the greens and plum sauce and stir to combine.
Taste and adjust balance with more fish sauce or plum. It is meant to be sweet, not salty.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Some notes on Sémillon, our gift to the world

Hunter Valley Sémillon is described by international wine experts as “Australia’s wine gift to world” – it is the highest quality, purest expression of dry white Sémillon wine produced anywhere on the globe.

I was first introduced properly to Sémillon by my best friend Katherine Partridge at the Hunter Valley 'Sémillon  and Seafood' luncheon/wine tasting festival. Kat worked at Brokenwood at the time which is well known for its Sémillon. It was actually an intimate event with only about 100 people or so at Tyrell's Winery. There were stalls from local wineries showcasing Sémillon from their vineyards as well as local gourmet food stalls serving all sorts of lovely seafood from Newcastle and Port Macquarie. We ended up at the Irish Pub down the road for a crazy night of dancing and table games and toe tapping and beer throwing... So, I pair Sémillon with many good memories.

Sémillon is a French word that originates from the Old Provençal semilhar, which means "to sow," which itself comes from the Latin semen, which means "seed"— stop giggling!

The purity of dry white Hunter Sémillon is due to its zesty, bright and positive lemon / lime aromas and flavors, with hints of honey and mineral, and its delicate racy acidity onto the finish.
The greatness of Hunter Sémillon comes from its unique capacity to age. Hunter Sémillon retains its zesty youthful fruit for many years, also complexing with biscuity, malty, honey and toast richness as it matures.
Sémillon is also the key to producing the most expensive sweet dessert wines in the world, from Sauternes and Barsac in France. The Hunter Valley also produces excellent Botrytis Sémillon dessert wines and these too are regarded as world-class. In this instance the grapes are left to ripen & develop on the vine until lusciously sweet. This Sémillon richness is further super-concentrated with Botrytis Cinerea, or “Noble Rot”, which develops on the berries prior to harvest.
Dry white Hunter Sémillon marries with a wide variety of seafood dishes. Zesty young Hunter Sémillon is a perfect match with the salty tang and creamy freshness of oysters, and also with the array of finer white fish, such as Snapper, John Dory and Whiting. Mature Hunter Sémillon is ideal with stronger flavored fish, such as Atlantic Salmon, as well as richer crayfish or crab dishes.

Botrytis Sémillon is always wonderful with desserts & blue cheeses & lovely choose and wine loving friends.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

French Custard Caramel Pie

French Custard Pie, at Robert Blanc Mountain Refuge (Originated from Brittany), en route Tour Du Mont Blanc, France.

After walking over 1500 metres up and down over the highest pass I have been on, we arrived late afternoon at Robert Blanc refuge. No walkers were there. Just Adriano, a french boy and an amazing cook!
He cooked us mountain soup with fromage (tomo de prezzo local cheese; we were near the italian border), wine and roast chicken with champignon and herb rice. We were so impressed and grateful already, then eh came out with this huge delicious custard pie, a recipe from his family in Brittany.

6 Eggs
1 cup Flour
1 cup Milk
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup pitted prunes

Whisk all ingredients together except the prunes.
Pour into a deep pie dish.
Chop the prunes and scatter in.
Bake for 1 hour at 150 C or till golden on the edges.

Serve with caramel cream and salted caramel sauce!