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“Carrot Love …” I love my Veg. Apparently they Love Each other Too!

21 Apr

"Carrot Love ..." I love my Veg. Apparently they Love Each other Too!

Great Pic from the guys at Ilona Staller, St Kilda, Melbounre.  Thanks for sharing guys!


“Michelle Chef at Cicciolina [Ilona Staller’s Sister Restaurant] caught out carrot love…”

Pesto! Pesto! Pesto!

17 Apr

Pesto! Pesto! Pesto!

It’s that time of year again, autumn is well and truly upon us, and it’s time to harvest the Basil crop and make a years supply of Pesto!

Check out the video, and, the pics and recipe below it for more detail. Forgive the excess back lighting, still working on that side of video production!


2 Cups tightly packed basil. I’ve got a massive crop of Chervil, so I’ll test it out as a substitute and see how it comes up.  Stay tuned to find out how it goes!

2 Cloves of Garlic

1 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

30g of Pinenuts. Ask for the Organic ones at Naturally on High they’re expensive at $60 a kilo, but the quality is outstanding. If you have any left over you can Smash out a Pumpkin Risotto and wack ’em on the top.

60g of cheese 2/3 Grana Padana and 1/3 Pecorino. Get it from the Mediterranean Wholesalers on Sydney Road, Brunswick, if you’re in Melbourne.

Pesto Ingredients

Pick, Wash and Spin Dry your Basil.

Basil Pre-Harvest

Basil Close-up & PersonalBasil Washed & Spun Dry

Work out how much you’ve got and then for every 2 cups dry toast 30g of Pinenuts in a pan. Be mega careful to keep the nuts moving and to not let the pan get too hot. These babies will burn if you turn you’re head for 2 seconds. Set aside to cool.

Pinenuts Dry FryingToasted Pinenuts

Peel 2 cloves of Garlic for each 2 cups of basil.

Garlic Heaven

Throw the Basil, Pinenuts and Garlic into a food processor (.. if you want to be a martyr you can use a mortar and pestle).  Add 1 cup of Olive Oil for each 2 cups of Basil and blitz.

Basil Pesto Close Up

Pour blitzed ingredients into a bowl, add 60g of grated cheese 2/3 Grana Padana and 1/3 Pecorino and mix well.

3kg of Yummy Basil Pesto

TOP TIP:  If you have excess, portion it out into ziplock bags and freeze so that you have a stash for the rest of the year.

Thrift form Nose to Tail – The Economics of Pig Farming

3 Apr

Harvest Day

This inspiring sharing of a relationship of respect between a man and his pigs offers great insights into the rearing of a pig by a small holder of land.

This respect, values, and uses, every part of the animal from Nose to Tail to create gastronomic delights to share with friends and family.

The film, goes so much further, exploring how the advent of refrigeration, legal tender and supermarkets has changed the economic equation, and, impacted the bonds of trust within our communities, the depth of relationships, not only between humans, but, also the animals that provide the nourishment for our existence.

The film starts with the disclaimer:

“Please Note: Some may find disagreeable select images contained herein that pertain to the process of alchemy by which and animal is turned into food.”

 I encourage you to take the time to watch this film and share it with adult and children alike. Some may view certain images in the film and see them as barbaric, I see them as beautiful, respectful and an important insight into where your bacon, Sunday roast and pate and so much more come from!

Anthony Kumick @GreenvaleFarm shared these beautiful films on Twitter.  I have had the great pleasure of devouring, delicious, tender, incredibly flavoured, cuts of Pork from Anthony’s, beautiful, organic, free range pigs reared with respect and love.

If you’re into butchery, check out the second video “Side Butchery” that demonstrates the art of breaking down a side of pork into useful, tasty cuts.

On the Anatomy of Thrift

Pork Provender in the Home Kitchen

an instructional series from Farmstead Meatsmith and Farmrun

“Harvest Day”

“Side Butchery”

Panzanella Party!

8 Mar

Panzanella Party!

Every tomato season I’ve gotta have Panzanella at least a couple of times.

It’s an amazing dish filled with the tastes of summer: tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and colours, basil and my non-traditional extra addition, stunning local Buffalo Mozzarella from Shaw River.

Originally a peasant dish it’s typically a great way to use up yesterdays stale bread to soak up some of the stunning juices from beautifully vine rippened tomatoes.

So, here it is, my Panzanella! It’s a modified version of Jamie Olivers’ from his Jamie’s Italy Cook Book. Best shared with great friends and a bottle or two of Filthy Good Vino.

The ingredients (Serves 6-8):

  • 1.3 kg of the freshest, yummiest, ripest, juiciest tommies you can get your hands on.
  • 3 capsicums – whatever colours you prefer.
  • A celery heart
  • A fennel bulb
  • A handful of salted capers, rinsed
  • 1/2 a spanish onion (go easy on this, it can overpower)
  • 12 anchovie fillets
  • 10 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt & Pepper
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • A couple of Mozzarella balls, go for Shaw River’s version from Victoria if you’re in OZ, it’s delicious.

Chargrill you capsicums on the barbie, under the grill or over a direct flame on the stove. When they’re good and black, place them in a bowl and cover with cling film to sweat the skins off.

Wash and drain your tommies. Cut them up roughly, seasoning lightly, but, evenly with salt as you go and place them in a strainer over a bowl. The juices that run out will for the base of your dressing. Chuck the anchovies and capers into the juice.


Rip your loaf of stale bread up by hand into 3-4cm chunks, Don’t cut it, the textures better when it’s ripped up I’ve used a ciabatta this time. If it’s not stale, wack it in the oven at 50 degrees to dry it out a bit. This will help the bread retain a bit of body in the salad.


As finely as is humanly possible, without cutting the tips off your fingers, slice half the Spanish onion, the fennel bulb and celery heart. You can rinse and drain the Spanish onion to remove a bit of kick from it.


Peel the burnt skin from the capsicum, rip out the core, clean away the seeds and slice the capsicum into strips. Resist the temptation to rinse the capsicum, you’ll just wash away flavour. Chuck it in the bowl with the onion, celery and fennel.


Onto the dressing – give the tommies in the strainer a gentle squish to get a little more tomato juice goodness into the bowl. Put your tommies aside then add a couple of tablespoons of sherry vinegar and 10 tablespoons of olive oil to the tomato juice, anchovies and capers. Grate about half the garlic clove in. Give it a wisk, taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the rest of the garlic if you think it needs it. The dressing should taste a little zingy on the vinegar front and well seasoned, the rest of the salad and bread will break it back, so it should be a little over the top.


Time to assemble. Mix the tommies, other veg and bread in a mega bowl. You can hold back a little of the onion if you’re worried about it being a bit OTT.  Pour the dressing evenly over the salad and get your hands dirty tossing it.  It’s the only way to do the job well. This salad needs to be rested for 15 mins to allow the bread to soak up the juices.  Grab yourself a big handful of  fresh basil, chop it roughly and mix through the salad.


Last thing, drain the water from the Mozza balls, slice and serve on the side.


The only way to serve the salad is in a mega bowl in the middle of the table. It’s a dish to share.


TOP TIP: Suck back a bottle of Filthy Good Vino with this like a Riesling.  I shared a 1996 Marc Bredif Vouvray from the Loire Valley made from Chenin Blanc with some great old friends. Yumminess factor was high, very high!

I Found a Golden Ticket! Chocolate Induced Endorphin Rush … The Lindt Experience

9 Nov


What a gift … 2 vouchers to a Lindt Chocolate Experience … Thanks Sis.



It all started in a pretty orderly fashion. Neat tables laid out with all the tools needed to make your own block of chocolate, samples to get the juices flowing and an apron.  I guess the apron should have been a warning of what was to come …

First up a quick hello from Lindt’s Master Chocolatier in Australia, Thomas Schnetzler. Thomas is one of those guys that has a real passion for what he does. You can see it in the glint in his eye and the curiosity for finding new chocolatey flavour combination. Given my winemaking background I can really relate to how wonderful it can be to create something that delights the senses and that can be enthusiastically shared with others.

There was no messing around with Thomas, who put us straight to work … if you could call it that!  Like kids in a candy shop, pardon the pun, we were given a chocolate mould filled with molten chocolate and given the mission of creating our own special block of Lindt Chocolate.  With a pallet of treats to sprinkle on top like good and happy little Oompa Loompas we went to work.  There were plenty of ingredients to choose from: crisp crepe wafers, liquorice, chilli and salt to roasted almonds, honey coated macadamias, candied rose petals and yes even that old child-hood favourite hundreds and thousands,

I think M’s grade 1’s could have probably done a neater job then me! M & P’s looked very professional, but more on that later.


Thomas’s passion for the product came through again as he guided us through first tasting, then making chocolate from Pod to Bar, with samples of each raw ingredient to play with along the way. There’s something about the 100% cocoa liquor that pushes the right buttons for me.  Kinda like my love of good Barolo, when you get to the extremes they can be intense, crazy experiences that are very pure.

Tasting in a nutshell 1. Look at it … you want a matt finish, not too shiny, no bloom and no bubbles (unless it’s an Aero Bar) 2. Feel it, by rubbing it between your fingers and melting a bit hoping for no gritty bits 3. Snap it – looking for a clean break, no splinters and the sound of a good snap 4. Sniff it, smelling for yumminess 5. Gobble it … go slow a couple of little munches and then roll it around your gob letting it melt so you can appreciate the flavours and texture. Lindt’s website has some fun tasting videos, but, there’s nothing like learning from the professionals.

From bottom right a couple of broken up Cocoa Nibs, a pile of roughly crushed cocoa, a splodge of cocoa liquor, the white cocoa butter, some cocoa powder and some of the end product.


It’s interesting that like wine and coffee, terroir is starting to receive growing appreciation for chocolate. Single origin chocolates have been around for a while, but, we’re not really seeing estate chocolates. Can’t wait to see more of those. Just like tasting wine it’s great to try more than one at a time, gives you something to compare against. Lindt has been trialing single origin chocolate. Sampling Lindt’s 70% Madagascar alongside the standard 70% bar, I could see more depth and length of flavour, along with a more lucious mouthfeel from a little more Cocoa Butter. It seemed just that little bit more expressive. It was funny to see that the 70%, a good chocolate in any line up, appeared sugar sweet rather being rich in flavour by comparison. Reminded me of wines that are tricked up with sugar to fill out the palate, not that it was.


The other relatively new offering from Lindt was a Sea Salt chocolate using proper Fleur de Sel.  Man it rocks, like salted caramel, the salt brings out the flavour and adds a real savouriness.

I wish Kennedy & Wilson a rocking local producer of Chocolate, based in the Yarra Valley, were still doing their Bergamot Dark Chocolate Stars … ORGASMIC!

By this stage I Started buzzing a bit, cocoa coursing through my veins, with more on the way in the form of a silky chocolate mousse! Then the next challenge some hardcore flavour blending, making ganache fillings for Macarons.  Thomas let us loose on another palate of flavours!  After three attempts I had one win, one OK and one, well let’s say it needed some work.  The winner Pistachio and Salt, the OK Rose Water and Candied Rose, the one that needed work Lemon, Hazelnut and Salt.  The lemon essence in alcohol had a killer bitterness, I reckon with the right raw material the combo could work.  Sort of like Frangelico and Lime.


Judgement Day … I’ll be back! … Thomas to the floor.  Casting his eye over our chocolate bar creations from the beginning of the night to choose a winner, his choice, none other than my Sis who walked away with an autographed book full of Chocolate Yumminess Recipes from Lindt’s Maitre Chocolatiers around the world.

The night ended with all of us in a … CHOCOLATE INDUCED ENDORPHIN RUSH … the Lindt Chocolate Experience was just that a great experience.  Thanks to Thomas and the staff at Lindt on Chapel Street for looking after our mess and the bag of goodies to gobble on the way home!