velcome to the veal vorld

So, after a few, ok, a lot of roadkill drive-by’s, we looked at each other and said ‘was that a cow’. It was, and it was in the middle of the road, and it was a baby cow, poor thing. It had clearly been hit not long prior, and we were around the South Australian/ NT border with cool morning temperatures. So, knives sharpened and I went to work. Some of the meat was a bit bruised, but a lot wasn’t. So two back legs, one front leg and the backstraps off. (Though I wish I’d had a look for the thymus….).

So here’s the haul, with Patrick looking on at about 2months worth of food……..

First night in Alice and I was lacking a grill to put over the fire. Two spare bike spokes through the length of a backstrap steak covered in olive oil and slowly grilled over embers. Yum. I made a leek and back garlic risotto to have too, though I think the guanciale was a bit much given the meaty accompaniment.

I can’t recall the last time I cooked schnitzel, and this is where I rediscovered the Guardian ‘how to cook the perfect…’ series, which is very very good. The cuts I had from the roadkill weren’t obvious or perfectly formed, hence when bashed with a wine bottle, the curiously formed Australian shape ensued (although it also looks a bit like a thymus….). The Guardian article states one source of making the schnitzel 4mm thick. The roadhouse beef schnitzel I had was about 10mm- I guess folks expect to get a protein hit from their schnitty.img_0290

A light dusting of flour, dipped in egg and then fresh breadcrumbs and fried in lard/ butter and olive oil- I like the 3. The slight offcutness led to it curling up so it became irregular in all dimensions……

I later made one with a curry powder/ flour dip which was sensational.


So here going very old school with some saurkraut cooked with white cabbage- just what you want in the tropics???

So, the shoulder screamed out for a slow barbecue, and after I’d slow roasted the wedding pork (in a conventional fan oven…) with a dusting of curry powder, it only seemed ¬†small leap to use curry powder as a rub for a slow smoked shoulder of veal……..

So, about 5-6hrs in a borrowed weber with the heat kept to 120C as best as I could with some wood from the adjacent Katherine river wilderness- I’m not sure what it was. Interestingly a wood I burnt later was really disgusting- obviously best to get a whiff first before you smoked something for 5 hours. Anyway, below is the result, it was magnificent. I kept it in the roasting pan which helped it from getting too much direct heat- I think the pizza metal plate with holes in would also act as a good ‘baffle’ to prevent direct radiant heat burning the meat. Some decent beer poured over the meat intermittently for malty flavours and to prevent drying and a large syringe to baste the juices back onto the meat.


The crust, the pink ring, the moist meat, the pan scrapings……


Early on arrival to Katherine I also thought it would be nice to try out making bresoala. Now this is usually made from a single muscle piece, dissected out from the rear leg, ’round’ steak I think (semi-tendonosis m.). However, obviously my leg was pretty tiny so this was essentially a veal rump, about 1.1kg if I recall. Going with the top end vibe, I salted these with a salty cure of some local honey, crushed pepper berry/ bush tomato, some local pink grapefruit juice (a useful of bit anti botulinum acidity) and some Lake hart salt (20g ish, i.e. 2% of meat weight) we scraped up from the insane salt flats in South Australia.

So I cured this for 3 days in the fridge wrapped in a sealed plastic bag, patted it dry, and stuffed it in amedical bandage and hung it in a bar fridge set to it’s lowest (i.e. warmest) setting- this seemd to hover around 10C. It rapidly and spontaneously developed an amazing white mould of candida (OK, weird, this is salami thrush), but evolved over the next few weeks into a wonderful meat cheese!! By 6 weeks it had lost over 30% of it’s weight (with a few wipes and excursions into the real fridge to dry off a bit), and lost it’s suppleness to a squeeze. It felt,’just right’. And it was. See below……

OK, it might not pass stringent food hygiene standards, but it didn’t kill me.

Got to love an old red with cured meats

So, what else is veal most famously utilised? I’d say goulash, and once again, the Guardian series gives a great discussion on the topic though interestingly no mention of veal- they suggest beef shin. The key ingredients in this, in addition to veal, is paprika, green peppers and interesting caraway seeds.

I used Spanish sweet smoked paprika, as that’s what I had in the cupboard. I also put in img_0798some fatty cured pork to add a bit of richness, although you could against that given the addition of sour cream at the end, which was sublime. Other useful points were to add the cooked green peppers towards the end of the cooking process, which preserved the texture and prevented them turning into mush.

This was utterly fabulous and I have to say, I loved the subtlety of the veal here, definitely a win, especially with the rather amazing New England lager.


I missed my most innovative outing. Well, I thought so as did my visiting guests Genevieve and Brian. I had a shin left over and thought a proper osso bucco should be done, proper as in this is actually veal. Often beef shin is sold as osso bucco here in Oz, which is nice, but osso bucco it is not.

I can’t recall where I saw this but I’m sure I’ve seen an Italian recipe somewhere for pork baked in milk, well, it seemed appropriate to pair with veal. I’ve got a weird recollection I tried this in a pressure cooker in Berlin a very long time ago- it was a disaster as I recall. The milk curdled and the meat was under done.

Anyway, what I was after was the milky rice pudding crust covering meaty goodness.

So a litre or so of hippy milk, a bay leaf, and onion and some carrots. Baked in the oven 150C ish until a nice lactatious crust had formed- bingo.

Served with bashed potatoes and truffled spinach. Castagna Shiraz/ Viognier was epic.

To be repeated, with more meat………


Back in black

Life got a bit complicated so willeats unfortunately took a bit of a backstep for the last couple of years, but my cooking is a good barometer of mental wellbeing. So here we are……

What better way to get back into this than with week messing around with one of the finest gastronomic ingredients, the black truffle. I think I last had one of these fellas back in Bristol, roughly 2003? and it cost about 30 quid for one (this 28g specimen cost just $50, 14 years later, the same???).  I think I that one too long, which was a shame. This time, I was going to come out of gates flying- this lump of pure black gold wasn’t going to last more than a few days.

Australia is a damn fine place. I am constantly in awe of the amazing quality of the boutique wines and beers that we produce. So in addition to insanely good vineyards another offspring of the retiring baby boomers is the advent of the downunder trufferie. Well, we have to get some crumbs from that silver spooned generation??? A quick internet search for local truffles came up with this company.


A few PMs and a dodgy meetup in a car park, and here we are.


Appropriate T


So, what to do. Interesting the phrase Louise the supplier used was keep it simple. Now, it’s a curious thing that one of the recipes I had in mind was poached chicken and truffle, which I had mis-appropriated to Simon Hopkinson. Now, follow me here, but I was in the local secondhand bookshop, and low and behold, there is a copy of Keep It Simple by Alastair Little. In it was the recipe for poached truffled chicken. Even more witchy as my mum would say, is that the last entry I wrote, ‘send in the tarts’, below, I referenced the same book. Anyway, I thought that was interesting. Here’s the recipe……



So, this is what I did. I tracked down some good looking chicken from the local organic shop- it had black skin on the legs (I’ll check breed/ supplier)*. It was mightily pricey, but then, chicken is woefully undervalued, poorly treated, and therefore mostly tastes mediocre. I was happy to pay for a chicken of fine heritage deserving of trufflation. Given this was no caged beast, I cooked it for a bit longer than the suggested 60min so 90-100mins. It was just the legs mind you, (as it was only myself and my lovely wife). If It had been the whole chook I would have jointed it and removed the breasts after an hour.

*Somerlad poultry 

The only change I made to the recipe was adding some blanched/ squeezed spinach to the leeks at the end as shown, and a plainly boiled potato. Oh yes, I didn’t have any stock to add, and didn’t see the need to be honest. It makes it’s own.

Improvements? I might not blanch the leeks next time, though black truffle and leek is beyond sublime, I think slowly sweating them with the truffle butter might be better. Maybe remove the chicken skin and fry it with the potato? The truffle would look more attractive just stuck on the side of the meat, like a badge of honour.

The wine was divine, a gloriously perfumed Yarra valley 2014 pinot that my non-wino, not-so-truffly wife identified 4 flavours in……..(she more than liked the whole dinner, but interestingly didn’t like the fresh truffle smell. Then again, she’s not into……)

As the leeks and truffle seemed somewhat fine, here they are again in a risotto made with the leftover chicken broth. Some sprouts with chestnuts, and fried pork ‘rib eye’.

And the final

Outing, the eggs become an omelette with just a bit of superb unpasteurised Swiss cheese called ‘my love’ from the wonderful

Fromart cheese company in Queensland. A nod to the old world with some delicious Riesling.

An omelette and a glass of wine. Now where have I heard that?


Send in the Tarts

There are definitely not enough tarts in my life, so here goes. Often the thought of handling pastry in this insane climate is off-putting. There is always aircon I suppose, but I have dreams of a walk in pantry, (and nightmares of dying polar bears).

I usually go for 6oz plain flour to 3oz of butter (i.e. 2:1) for shortcrust pastry. In this heat, the key is being FAST. I had 2 tarts planned and doubled this (so 12/6oz). So the kenwood is ready to go (should freeze the K beater first….), and the butter is cut into wee cubes and put in the bowl with the flour. Incidentally, I don’t think there is any need to sift- I think this used to get the weevils out. Though until I get my pantry, maybe I should?

Anyhoo, lowish speed on the mixer or you have a butter flour bomb, until the butter is broken to crumbs. You could roll this between finger and thumb, but it’s too hot. Now get a jug with ice water mix. Get the mixer going at a reasonable speed, and very slowly start pouring the iced water (not any ice), into the whirring mixture, somewhere in the middle i.e. between the rim of the bowl and the centre of the bowel. As soon as larger clumps appear STOP. This will only be a few tablespoons/ 30ml or so. I should video this really shouldn’t I. Quickly compress with your non-sweaty hands into a ball, wrap in cling film, (OK, glad wrap), and put in the fridge for an hour. I’m not sure of the evidence basis for this but I want it cold as heck, and this has just warmed up a bit.

Alastair Little, an influence from my youth, suggests cutting the pastry to fit the pastry tin


from the deepest darkest nineties…..



So you have a big slab of pastry- cut it into thickish slices as above- though I would in future cut it into thinner to get more coverage. You then need to mould it into the pastry tin.



And hopefully you end up with this. I also reinforced the corners a bit, though on this pastry tin, the sides are low and at an angle- take care with vertical sides. A flopped in pastry edge in the oven is heart breaking.

Prick the base with a fork to stop air trapping, and in she goes at 180C, until solid. Take care not to brown the pastry. When it’s almost done, brush a milk/ egg mixture over the pastry and put back in. Floppy sides is one thing, but a leaky tart is devastating.



So finally, let’s fill yer tart.

Take one crab pot, put a bit of pigs head in it. Leave in a muddy mangrove tidal creek over a high tide, and hey presto, mud crabs.

One I boiled upside down and removed the wee legs after 3 mins and the big claws after 5-6. The main body obviously takes a lot longer (think of boiling an egg- mmmm, maybe there’s a market for a colour changing crab timer….).

It’s worth taking the time to get all the meat out of the body- there is a lot of very good white stuff to be had when you get rid of the gills and poke it all out. Keep it cool, and add a load of chopped tarragon, salt, white pepper, 2 eggs and 300ml of double cream and some sweated shallots. Add all the soft brown stuff in the shell too, though there wasn’t as much as you might find in a UK crab, intertingly. Stir it up and pour it into the pastry case. This is best done whilst it’s half out the oven on a sliding grid or you will spill it.




Next filling was an idea from Shona after we opened some petit sapin a bit late to find it was over the edge of ripeness. There was a French baker, Bertrand, in Edinburgh who used to get the over ripe cheeses from the nearby cheese monger and make sublime tarts with them.

Petit Sapin is the pasteurised (therefore allowed in Oz) version of the most amazing cheese I think there is- Vacherin Mont D’or, from the Franche Comte region of France. This is a bucket list cheese- DO NOT DIE BEFORE TRYING IT. It’s made in winter and is wrapped in a strip of spruce bark. It is truly stunning.



So, in it all went, and 3 eggs and a bit less cream. Shallots and black pepper.


Baked at 130C until no wobble/ ripple when given a nudge.



Oh yes, here’s some fennel seeds on the base I scattered before pressing the pastry down for the crab tart.





A crisp chardonnay here perchance? And the odd droplet of Tabasco. Why not.

Bloody Nora-drenaline feast

The very fine butchers of Katherine ‘Eat beef ya bastard’ fame has some zany produce, not least litre containers of pigs blood. Now, when I bought this, I also bought some back fat with the plan to make some black pudding, something as yet unexplored. Cut to about 2 years later……

jones meat k

There is a bit of a lack of fine black stuff round these parts, so when needs must, refer to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Now I have to say I love Hugh a great deal, but his quantities for black pudding seemed a bit awry- 2litres of blood and 500g EACH of pearl barley and oatmeal, and 1kg of back fat, and 1kg of onions.image

I have to say I I didn’t weigh a thing. I soaked a cup of pinhead oatmeal overnight and then de-skinned the back fat, possibly 250-300g, and it looked about right. In it all went with a tablespoon of salt, a big grind of white and black pepper and a line of allspice (snort).


This is where it got a bit like a bad resus- pour in the blood. It’s interesting what the sight of a lot of blood does- I did warn my son, and I wish I hadn’t ¬†fed him the line, but he wasn’t keen. He did take about 30 photos of me wrestling with the stuff though.


The Jug o’ blood (Pub name?)


Black hole

After clogging up one funnel I created one out of a Ginger cordial bottle, chopped off to make a cone, which worked pretty bloody well (there I go again). After tying one end of the casings up, it filled up like a dream to produce the coiled black hole- no light was coming out of this. Amazing. It was a bit fiddly to get rid of the air, which I didn’t succeed at 100%, but 95%…..

Now, one tip from Hugh was to gently poach them, but more importantly, when they burst, a little bit of you dies…..


Blood bath

So, bring on the gadget, yes, the sous vide. How about 80C- why not, that should clot the blood.



Lo and behold it worked- by the time the temperature was back up to 80C, they felt pretty solid, so out they came.


Insanely Beautiful

Beast 2 is keen, but no1, despite his liking for it as a toddler wasn’t quite so enamered. Steve and I enjoyed a post MTB ride snack, shown, Fresh bread, big coffee, marmalade, OJ and Worcester sauce. Wow.

So next time? May s few onions and perhaps a French style boudin with lots of cream? Or Spanish style with rice a smoked paprika?? Getting hungry just thinking about this……

Offensive. What does this mean?

I could post this on my work medical blog, but it’s work, and I may get into trouble, so I’ll post on my food blog. Because I can.

There has been a re-emergence of the Cricoidgate scandal of 2014, whereupon a most prolific and upstanding proponent of the FOAM world, Dr Cliff Reid wrote a brief discourse around his views of the continued use of cricoid pressure in emergency airway management arena. He used the acronym R.E.T.A.R.D to summarise this. I can’t even recall the exact expansion of this, but people were OFFENDED. Essentially, the equally prolific and wonderful Dr Minh Le Cong was not pleased as he was a proponent of it’s use based on current expert practice from our gaseous colleagues.

There was a lot of talk about being offended. I tweeted a Stephen Fry interview in there, and I believe Dr Nicholas Chrimes later suggested this ‘offensive’ discourse was ‘just semantics’. Or something like that.

Well, I would like to explore this a little further.

Nicholas has now ended up feeling the offensive wrath of EMS_junkie, who has shown equal disdain for his use of the word ‘zealot’.

Now, a quick disclaimer- my other half (SB) is a philosophy graduate, and we’ve spent 20+ years ‘discussing’. Incidentally, she’s irritatingly rather good at biostatistics, and I need to thank her for the romantic pillow talk on this very topic.

I’ll just pick a bone about ‘just semantics’, as Dr Chrimes has used it again in the recent twitter dialogue. I would suggest that phrase just semantics’ doesn’t make sense, given that (linguistic) semantics is about meaning, as well as other branches in psychology and computer science. I might need my French speaking philosophy other half to assist with the rest of the wikipedia entry.

Anyway, back to Stephen Fry’s comment, that the statement “I am offended by that” is essentially a whine; a statement with no meaning.

Here’s a situation we considered from an actual occurrence. A meal with a number of friends and colleagues, and someone at the table cracks a joke about paedophiles/ paedophilia. Where are we now on the Fry ‘offense is meaningless’ position?

SB raised the idea that really it is an emotional reaction. Being offended as an emotional reaction? So to deny that is as logical as to deny someone isn’t sad, or angry etc. I think this is a useful concept. We may not really understand the reason for the ‘offense’ but it is there. What about the dinner party case? Or indeed the casually racist remark in a hospital meeting, or a member of staff in an open area in the department, or a patient who states ‘I’m glad I’ve got you doc, at least you speak English?’.

The offence may indeed stem from anger, but here it is not really the anger of being offended, it is the anger of someone stating something you feel to be morally wrong, (to open a whole new can of philosphical worms).

And this emotional reaction should be considered distinct from the message of the argument, in the case of Cricoidgate, that the application of cricoid pressure is perhaps a position of dogma, but even worse, it is a position that is potentially doing harm. It is therefore understandable that to get the point across, to draw attention to the other persons seemingly contradictory  point of view, an offensive strategy might be required. Perhaps, to go on the offensive?

Of course it then reminds us of the military or sporting connotation, which is one of attack. And this was SBs point again, it can be (or perceived to be) an attack on a person.

And this where doctors might feel this differently to say a scientist, who might feel somewhat less invested in a certain ‘practice’. When that practice is critiqued, it is perhaps more likely to cause some kind of emotional reaction. In fact I bristled at a skull X-ray I ordered being critiqued the other day. Personally I feel there is a role, and it’s a well thought and logical decision process to me, so I reacted to this. We all do.

So what to do in the case of the racist remark at work, or the paedophile joke at the dinner table. I think the former is easier, unless you’re colleagues are drunk. But an immediate comment stating that is not a reasonable thing to say, possibly with an apology, is probably required, without the emotion.

The dinner table guest should probably get the same swift unemotional comment and not be invited again.

And the blog post/ Twitter comment?

Well, now we are in new territory, as the instant thought, witty cutback, etc etc becomes essentially irreversible and re-tweetable with countless edits and mis-contexts as woeful as an ABC radio news edit.

Let’s just have a chat over a pint……..



Coke Tails. A Journey from Roux to ‘roo.

OK, let’s start with a post-modern ironic recipe alert. There can’t be many of these, but like our best jokes*, and loudest eructations, we appreciate our own more than most, and it tickled me. It all started with a bottle of Victorian Bannockburn Pinot Noir, 2000. What to have with this? Well, I like a good long cooked gelatinous meat or game fest with a big pinot. So we’re talking beef shin, ox tail, magpie goose etc. I had some roo tail in the freezer, which I think I’ve written about previously. It is like oxtail on game ‘roids. Amazing. So how to prepare? Hold on, HOLD THE F### ON, there’s a bottle of coke in the fridge, acquired for the purposes of coin sparklage investigation (though 2 litres was a little excessive, Shona). The buxom ¬†(still?) Nigella has a recipe for a ham cooked in coke, so why not?

IMG_5138[1]*(3/4/14 addendum- I should explain my slightly dark internal mirth- kangaroo is a most revered delicacy by Australian Aboriginals. Unfortunately, sugary soft drinks are now a major calorific contributor in local diets, to the appalling detriment of dental hygiene, amongst many others).

The tail came complete as shown, though without skin and actually must have had a bit of fat removed, a shame. It’s worth remembering that the tail bones are a damn site longer than Oxtail, about 10cm near the base, so don’t go hacking blindly with your best Shun knife, it’ll end in tears.

Tail pieces upended, with 2 sticks of celery, 2 carrots an onion, and, a bit left field, an inch of root ginger, and enough coke to almost cover this compact assemblage. This was simmered until the meat is falling off the bones (about 6-7hrs), and then the veg removed and juices strained (would have been easier to keep separate from the meat, see below), and all kept overnight.

I’m not sure when the next phase of the dsh hit, but I was thinking what carbs to have with this, and since I had some time with the beasties I thought making pasta would be fun, yes, some homemade tagliatelle. But then wait, how about lasagne? BINGO. The journey continues……

The roux recipe is recalled vaguely on a M. Michel Roux cutting, appropriately. The quantities are easy to recall. (Actually a roux is a sauce thickened with a butter/ flour mixture, so Bechamel is a type of roux, but doesn’t rhyme with ‘roo).

  • 50g butter
  • 50g flour

Melted and allowed to cool a little

  • 1litre milk, gently simmered with
  • 1 choppped onion
  • 2-3 celery sticks (I like a strong celery flavour and the boys are less keen on a strong bay leaf/ pepper flavour- hey ho).



The milk strained through a conical sieve and added initially slowly (i.e. similar vol to butter/ flour), whisked in, double volume, whisked, double etc, taking care to scrape the corners of the saucepan. Then simmered until thickened. I invariably end up f##king up my Bechamel by either boiling the milk over or burning the supposedly simmering sauce. PAY ATTENTION.






Meanwhile, the boys are ripping the meat from the bones with deft little fingers and getting to gnaw at the bones. Good job beasts.


So then onto the pasta. Another easy quantity to remember is 1 egg to 100g flour. For this I used,

  • 3 eggs
  • 150g pasta plain flour
  • 150g semolina

Topped up (probably unnecessarily) with some water.

I use half plain and half semolina to get the gluten level up for a pasta that will won’t fall apart. However, it needs an enormous amount of work. At this point I ditched the otherwise super helpful boys, but I had to put the rough mass through the biggest setting on the pasta machine, perhaps 15-20 times?



And you just keep going until it becomes smooth, (not knobbly as show). The sheets need adusting of flour between rolls, and once smooth you can start thinning them out gradually from notch 1 to notch 5 (of 7 on my machine).



OK, we are nearly there. The veg (except ginger), I (well, Felix) put through a mouli legumes as shown, and added this to the meat and juice to make a fantastic sauce. I think this is a similar approach to that used for Hare Royale by Simon Hopkinson (God I miss hare….).

So, finally the construction. In retrospect, I put too much pasta to sauce here (ended up a bit dry), but hey, next time I’ll up the roo, and do 2 tails and go large. After spooning sauce betwen layes of pasta, I finished off with about 2/3 of the Bechamel on top of a final layer of pasta and a shit load of grated Parmesan. Ooh yeah baby.

Baked in the oven at 180C until, well, until it’s ready. Which is obvious to see.


And here we are.




The Pinot was utterly divine, one of the best I’ve ever had. Lovely pinot gamey, cheesey mushroom flavours but also very full bodied, enough tannins to throw a deposit. Amazing.






Will and Tom’s most excellent sausages

Tom would like to use the homoerotic shots and themes in our advertising campaign, I’m not so sure. But there were sweaty, semi-naked artisans handling thin membranes and meat. Say no more.


These were truly leftover and recycled 100% noble in death porkers- not only did the shins get used for a medical suturing teaching session, they were then rescued by yours truly, for a divine gastronomic exit. I’ve had about 15 of these jammed into the freezer at work waiting for this.

The initial shin experiment involved 5 in a row on a rotisserie spit, cooked for about 3hrs in the Weber. I arranged them at right angles and separated by a small gap to enable faster cooking and hopefully a decent crackle of the skin. On a couple I sprinkled some Spanish smoked paprika, and on one, a bit of Herbes de Provence (+lavender), more suited to lamb perhaps, but why not. And two I left plain. They were divine- a strong, gelatinous porky meat encased in a superbly crackled skin. This was unctuous testosterone fuelled food, to be smothered in hot mustard, eaten with bare hands and washed down with fine ale, preferably served by buxom wenches…..

But anyway, the sausages. A delightful gift from Shona- 25m of sausage casings from here


We removed everything off the bones and chopped it into 2cm ish cubes for the mincer. Having experienced very good sausages at a Slow food Italian sausage demo including much skin, I was keen to include it, but this meant mincing on the coarse setting, mixing in flavourings (white pepper and parsley, salt) then putting them through the fine mincer- (we tried afried blob on the coarse setting but it was too resilient).

And there we were, ready to rock’n’roll slip n slide.


And here are the beauties- over 5lb of.


My god they were good, so good I forgot to take any photos of them cooked. Here are some cooked Christmas Indonesian snags- lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, green chili and shallot. Just with bought mince, beefed up with fatty pancetta but still dry. THEY NEED COLLAGEN.


Felix on Xmas pud duty, yes, with 10″ knife. Recipe courtesy of the most divine National Trust Puddings book, now reprinted. Inspired by the medieval meaty intro, I put some cubed beef cheek in the centre of one of them. This was a bit of a head fuck for some, but those willing I think were entertained.

IMG_4172[1] IMG_4160[1]IMG_4161[1] IMG_4186[1]

A couple of pre-xmas snacks, simply grilled lamb chop with green beans (verjuice deglaze of bbq), mint in cider vinegar, and then Xmas Eve, blackened salmon with Indonesian chili paste, and rather spikey Loufa.

IMG_4200[1] IMG_4199[1]  IMG_4216[1]

Arancini- leftover risotto, feta in middle, parmesan breadcrumbs, and baked in the oven with an lipid combo of olive oil, lard and butter,



A little bird told me

Sous Vide Quail

I can’t recall the last time I cooked quail, but mum reckoned she hadn’t eaten them for 30 years, which seems incredible. These were from Meat Direct. A recipe in a wonderful Moroccan cookbook, mentioned cooking then barbecuing, so what better excuse to use the sous vide. A large lump of butter, some home toasted and ground cumin and corriander, and some salted lemon. ¬†In they went.

But for what period and what temperature? I went for whatever it stated for chicken, so around 80C and I think they were in an hour or so when I noticed the bag had split. Bastard, shit, bollocks. Delicious juices diluted in about 3litres of water. GRRRRRRRRR.

Hey ho, I salvaged the critters, and some juices and cooked them at the periphery of a hot bbq as shown, basting them with reduced salvaged buttery marinade/ cooking juice. They turned out a treat, I also bolstered the protein quotient with a couple of porterhouse steaks which cooked nicely over the red hot coals. 

(Since cooking I’ve discovered that if there is moisture around the end of the bag where the heating /sealing element of the vacuum pump is, you will not get a seal. Having a decent length of bag (maybe 10cm) and wiping internal aspect of the bag seem to help).




Just an excuse for some bread porn……



This was a frigging brilliant ‘what the f*&^ shall we eat for dinner’ effort, if I say so myself. It’s a cliche, but sometimes the best meals come from these high pressure situations (‘nurse, mop my brow!’).¬†

So, it’s 430, and I’m back from a day of saving lives (in the style Gilderoy Lockhart).

  • Pork belly in sous vide to defrost ( and cook at little).
  • Slice skin with razor
  • rub ground fennel into flesh
  • cook on lowish frying pan or bbq plate, skin side down till getting crispy, turn onto each side and cook until golden bits everywhere
  • boil potatoes
  • stew leeks (bit of water in too, they always burn)
  • steamed funky squash things (zoomed around the frying pan to extract jus).
  • mash potatoes¬†

Served with Coopers sparkling and Coleman’s mustard. BONZA!!!!! Truffle oil would not have gone amiss here…..




Very fine Bimkin noodles at the strangely located Waterfall cafe.



Mel had a do at which a whole lamb was up for auction. I missed out but I did get hold of a beast to take down with me to Katherine where Paul had been promising a spit roast for some time. Before I handed the beast over I extracted the kidneys (in their suet jacket) and cooke them up with some pancetta and butterbeans in tomato sauce for a fine supper.




A very fine spit.





Another sous vide exploratory effort and one that seemed eminently apt. I cooked oysters with steak in Katherine, and had forgotten just how bloody lovely the combination is (remembering oysters in beef pies and puddings were a very English phenomenon). But the carpet bag steak is a Kiwi invention, (or maybe not, maybe popularised…?). Anyway, bits of half oyster (frozen OK here), gently inserted into pockets carefully hewn in large chunks of rump, and cooked in sous vide for an hour, chilled in the fridge, and then rapidly grilled on a damn hot fire. What else but Coopers stout to was this down. Oh yeah baby.



Frank’s, a local very good fish monger has wild Alaskan salmon in the freezer. How good is that? A quick supper here then….

Very fine Cambodian rice cooking, so steam the salmon. How about flicking in an enormous slab of butter to bathe it. And then using said butter to make a Hollandaise. And some cute little Lebanese cucumber to make one of the finest sauces ever to lubricate a fish (cucumber skinned, de-seeded and diced finely, salted on kitchen paper then washed and drained). Some bok choi, and, oh yes, some 2002 Pol Roger is in the Fridge. WTF not? Wow, how fine was this. I slightly over did the fish, and I think de-skinned fillets would be a touch more sophisticated (fry skin as a crispy garnish?). 

IMG_3423[1] IMG_3424[1]

PS- I could call this ‘confit of salmon’, but I’d rather confit my own arse than do that.


Let the geekery commence!

A night with ladies of easy virtue was on the wishlist, but a close second was a sous vide appliance. James wanted to get me a BMX. OK, only the last one was true. I was happy with a pair of trainers and a new Global knife.

Sous vide, or not to sous vide? Well, this was decided for me as a gift from friends and colleagues in the ED who very kindly bought me an appliance for my, ahem, four zero commiserations.

I’ve been discussing the technique for a while and not been overly convinced of it’s utility in a domestic setting where time is not a cost. In a restaurant, these can be precooked in their cryovac bags and hatched at convenience for the addition of flavour by searing to produce the flavours via Maillard reactions that tickle our umami taste buds. I’ve always felt 3hrs on a spit roast will produce a complexity that can’t be reached with 60 seconds in a pan, and is why a $15 chicken from Coles or Woolies tastes bloody good (even if the texture is shit). Interestingly the technique was developed in the States as an industrial food preparation method but first described by a British American, Count¬†Mumford, in 1799. Awesome catch up by the chefs.

However, never to be totally bigoted and open to new ideas, here we go.



This is a slice through the middle section of sheer beef porn. A 7.5kg hunk of Wagyu rump. When our eyes met through the fridge door at Meat Direct, it was love at first sight. There was no way this was going to another home. So for the barbecue, I hacked off about half of this through the night and cooked it to varying states of rawness for the unitiated. Some people got medium…..

The next day, after my liver became somewhat fatted, it seemed rude to not try this sous vide. So, in it went at 50C for 1 hour, and then seared on the smoking hot electric ridged griddle. No chips (my gall bladder would resign), just plain boiled potatoes, salsa verde (parsley, shallot chives, mustard, cider vinegar and olive oil), roast shallots, cooked rocket (super peppery). The Yalumba signature 2008 (Cab/Shiraz), $60 from Vintage Cellars, was very, very good indeed.


Having roasted a kilo or so of shallots whole, it seemed a waste to ignore all the delicious sugary exudate (Maillard++) on the skins, so I swilled the skins in some water to dissolve this and boiled the mixture down with some (a lot, 100ml) balsamic vinegar to have as a condiment with the beef. It didn’t quite work as I think a huge amount of tannin got extracted from the skin. However, this leads to part 2 of sous vide, RABBIT.

Now if you Google sous vide rabbit, you get a lot of poor write ups. So no useful advice there. I decided to go with the chicken advice and cook for 2.5 hr at 82C. I jointed the rabbit into 6 (chest with front legs/ saddle and rear legs, all cleavered in half), and poured into the bags a few tablespoons of my balsamic/ shallot reduction. My aim here was to lose the tannins by polymerisation through cooking which is what happens in wine over years; the heavey sediment on a good wine (as The Signature, above,  was developing at the bottle shoulder).

However, upon opening the next day, it was a rubbery bit of leather, so in it went again, this time overnight for 7.5 hours, at 82C again. We’ll see, yet to open……




Pumpkin and saffron risotto



Rosella and quince jam



Lamb, butterbean stew with crust




Sour Pork





Cooking Up In a Storm

Difficult to miss out on a pun with aphorism and descriptor so wittily combined, but then, there’s the gastronomic¬†comedy¬†genius that is adored by my many readers around the world and other people not in my family.

So we had a duck from the rather well named ‘luv-a-duck’ company whose pork, duck and fennel sausages we rather like and the chicken is the current favourite too, so hey, let’s roast.

I’ve always done a good skin blanching with boiling water on most roast with some skin to crisp. so chicken a pork both get a kettle full of boiling water carefully poured over them. However, it’s a bit tricky to find a cool, draughty area to let the skin dry out. A bit of salt maybe helps.

Anyway, this duck got a good smearing of five spice powder and smashed ginger on the inside and was set spinning on the rotisserie as shown. A massive downpour¬†towards¬†the end called for Scottish barbecuing skills, barricading the flames from the water. Overall this was a frustrating effort as the coals just never got hot enough to get a good¬†crisping. The duck wasn’t bad though.


I did however manage to bake some bread, pushing the envelope of barbecuing. Again, the temperature wasn’t quite high enough, but I reckon it might be possible to make a bread oven if you could put some¬†insulating¬†material over the dome? To explore……..


Annoying, I turned the lardy bread out and over the coals but this just burnt the lovely crust, darn it.

Cheese platterIMG_2734[1]

The delicious platter above was courtesy of who deliver very fine cheeses at a great price at great speed. As you can see, there is rather an enormous chunk of stilton in very fine condition. Where’s the port?

Shona’s getting a bit sick of my noodle soups but seems happy enough to scoff laksa. This was one I did on my own with leftover barra, fresh rice noodles, stock of some description, weird Indonesian paste, green pepper and rather successfully, pumpkin. Oh yes, coconut of course.


Interestingly some locally reared lamb- Dorper Damara (??), a south African cross with middle eastern, leg roasted very nicely and carved very well the next day. Weirdly I had a leek, and felt a kind of kedgeree/ pilau urge.

I cooked the rice with some melted leek (careful not to burn), in butter, fried with some toasted and ground fennel seed, cumin, corriander and turemeric, then basmati rice. To this some lamb stock from the bones. Served as shown with some boiled eggs, (and one salted duck- why not?). A v pleasant luncheon.



This chicken roasted supremely well. Inspired by Amy, of Amy’s warung whose (possibly enhanced a la MSG) bbq chicken is the finest in the land. I butterflied it down the vertebra, and smeared grated turmeric, galangal, garlic and chili on the ‘inner’ surface. I placed her over some tins containing aubergines and barbecued with the coals either side of the tins, so the chicken wasn’t over the heat, and put a lid on to assist roastage. Oh my, what a divine experience, possibly the best roast chicken I’ve done. I also made some magic green shit- blitzed corrinder (with root), mint and chive shallots woth coconut milk. No green chilis, (the kids….) but limes would be nice. Pawpaw salad and cucumber with plain rice. Very, very fine.




Finally, some muesli. Shona’s been making a lot of this, and there are some terrifically complex combinations out there. I can’t be arsed with spices and vanilla in mine to be honest, and if I want fruit I’ll add my own dates etc, so a quick way is just to chuck in your oats (these are Swedish I think), with choppped nuts and something sweet. Today I used macadamia and almond with a few tablespoons of local honey, stirring every now and then. Even covered it was too hot, and interestingly the macadamias were more susceptible than the almonds.

225C was a bit high, but I was baking bread, note to self……