Beetroot Cured Salmon with Finger Lime, Horseradish Labna and Buckwheat Lavosh

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The last few months haven’t been easy for me. All of a sudden I had found myself in a completely new living environment, new job (that I didn’t really like), missing my mates and social life back in Newcastle, and feeling overall, a little bewildered at the huge changes. It was weird considering I find it so easy to travel to remote countries alone, meet new people and seek out new experiences. I think it was because I knew deep down that this is going to be my life for a good while now, not just a stepping stone to the next overseas adventure.
I’ve now come to realise that this IS a new adventure, it just doesn’t involve as many plane trips or passport stamps. I’m finally starting to gain the courage to admit what I really want. And I think this place may just help me to accomplish my goals.
With an open heart and mind I have now found myself in a new job, with beautiful, encouraging, and motivating people, who, after only one week, I feel so grateful to be a part of their business and excited for their future and mine.
I love the focus on local produce up here and the sense of sharing. Last Friday two people came in with gifts from their farms, including some beautiful finger limes. My mind immediately started racing with what I could do with them. Not surprisingly, after another 38 degree day, I firstly thought of an icy cold gin and tonic, topped with the little bursting finger lime vesicles and some juniper berries. After daydreaming about that for a while I then remembered this salmon dish that I made at Christmas, a recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver. The flavours worked perfectly together and I was also so happy with how the labna and lavosh turned out. It all looks very fancy and complicated but in fact is very easy, especially if you skip making your own lavosh and just buy some.
There were Hot Cross Buns in the supermarket the other day, so let’s just say I’m getting in here early with the perfect Easter recipe for you all.dsc_1454 dsc_1531 dsc_1537

Recipe

You will need to start this recipe 48hrs in advance

Serves 6 as an entree

Ingredients

Salmon

800g side salmon, pin boned, skin off

2 fresh beetroot, peeled and chopped

Juice of 2 limes

Juice of 2 lemons

3 juniper berries, bashed

5 tbs rock salt

2 tbs raw sugar

50ml gin

Labna

500g natural, thick greek yoghurt

1 tsp salt

1 clove garlic, finely grated

1 tsp finely grated fresh horseradish

Buckwheat Lavosh

1 tbs raw sugar

100g buckwheat

300g plain flour

30g butter, cubed

1 tsp salt plus extra

2 tsp fennel seeds

150g water

2 egg whites

To serve

3 finger limes, vesicles removed

4 baby cucumbers, thinly sliced

Bunch baby radishes, finely sliced

Baby herbs

Method

Start the labna 48hrs prior to serving.

To make the labna, in a large bowl, combine the yoghurt, salt, garlic and horseradish and stir well to combine. Place in a colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth, over a large bowl. Bring the edges of the cheesecloth together and twist to wrap the yoghurt tightly. Place 2 or 3 tins of beans (or whatever) on top and place in the fridge to set.

Start curing the salmon 24hrs prior to serving.

To cure the salmon, place all the ingredients, except the salmon, in a food processor and process until smooth.

Place the salmon in a baking dish and pour over the beetroot cure. Spread it evenly to coat both sides of the salmon.

Place a piece of baking paper over the salmon and tuck in snuggly around the salmon. Cover tightly with a double layer of cling wrap and place in the fridge for 24hours. No longer.

For the buckwheat lavosh, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius  and line 3 to 4 baking trays with baking paper.

Combine the flours, sugar, salt and fennel seeds in a bowl. Add the butter and use finger tips to rub into the flour.

Add the water and 1 of the egg whites and stir to bring together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces and use a pasta machine to roll until 2mm thick (or use a rolling pin).

Place on to prepared trays and brush with the remaining egg white and sprinkle with a little cracked salt.

Bake, in batches, for about 20mins, or until golden and crisp (keep and eye on it!)

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

When ready to serve, remove the salmon from the cure and gently wash off any excess with as little water as possible.

Remove the labna from the cheesecloth and put into a serving bowl.

Thinly slice the salmon across the grain and arrange on a serving platter along with the radish, cucumber, baby herbs and finger lime vesicles. Serve alongside the lavosh and labna.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Kalamata Olive and Roast Almond Tapenade

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Every year I say, I’m not doing anything for Christmas, I can’t afford it, I don’t have time, blah blah blah. But then, every year, next minute, I’m elbows deep in royal icing, fighting off the flies on a 35 degree summer’s day, making gingerbread houses that no-one is going to eat. And I secretly love it.

However, I’m guessing most people aren’t like me, so here is a recipe for an impressive but very easy appetiser for these entertaining times. Will post another one tomorrow for an even easier one!dsc_1371 dsc_1396dsc_1415 dsc_1434

Recipe
Makes about 2 cups
Ingredients
500g kalamata olives
4 anchovies plus 1 tbs of their oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tbs capers
4 tbs olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1 cup roasted almonds plus a quarter of a cup of sliced to serve
To Serve
4 garlic bulbs, cut and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper at 180 degrees for about 30mins
Cherry tomatoes on the vine, roasted at 180 degrees for about 15mins
Danish Feta
Fresh baguette (or a gluten free alterna
Fresh basil leaves
Method
To make the tapenade, first roughly chop the almonds in a food processor by using the pulse button so as not to over-chop. Empty them into a bowl.
Place the olives, anchovies, garlic, capers, olive oil, lemon juice and pepper in the processor and process until combined and relatively smooth. Empty into the bowl with the almonds and stir to combine.
To serve, place in a bowl and top with the extra sliced almonds. Place bowl on a platter with the garlic, tomatoes, feta, baguette and basil leaves.
Enjoy!

Crunchy Nut Fish with Wasabi Mayo and Veggie Chips

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This is a funky recipe, shown to me by an awesome guy we have been staying with, it’s not often I’ll take a shortcut like this when preparing food, but I thought this little trick was too good not to share. I’ve heard of using crushed salt and vinegar chips as a crumb for fish, but never had I seen this before! Crunchy Nut Cornflakes are the star here, they lend a subtle sweetness and perfect crunch to the outside of the deliciously soft fish. I didn’t actually know what I was eating at the time, until I later asked him what he had used in the crumbs, I was shocked! I asked if he wouldn’t mind me using his idea and sharing it on my blog. And at the time I had all intentions of making my own crunchy nut crumb, but then I thought, hey, why change something that already rocks! So, for the first time in my life I bought a box of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, of which Benny has been enjoying the leftovers of for breakfast the last couple of days!!

We shared this meal with some friends down at the beach, trying to make the most of our last week in Darwin. Now that we are about to leave I’m ashamed of myself that we haven’t had way more sunset beach picnics. Time flies by so fast, it’s scary. One good thing about having a life like we do at the moment is that we really do live each day to the next without ever really knowing what might happen next, but the days still seem to melt away….

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Recipe

Ingredients
800g trevally (or other firm white fish), de-boned and cut into 10cm pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs whole egg mayonnaise
2 tbs plain yoghurt
1 tsp hot english mustard
salt and pepper
300g crunchy nut cornflakes, finely crushed in a mortar and pestle or food processor
Coconut oil, for shallow frying
2 medium red rascal potatoes, skin left on, cut into thick chips
1 large, white skin, purple flesh, sweet potato, skin left on, cut into thick chips
2 beetroot, peeled, cut into thick chips
Olive oil
Lemon wedges and a simple green salad to serve, if desired
Wasabi Mayo
4 tbs whole egg mayonnaise
4 tbs plain yoghurt
Juice of half a lemon
2-3 tsp wasabi paste

Method
For the fish, in a large, non-reactive bowl, combine the garlic, mayonnaise, yoghurt, mustard and salt and pepper. Add the fish and stir to coat. Cover and leave in the fridge for half an hour to marinate.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Prepare two baking trays with baking paper. In one large bowl, toss the potato and sweet potato with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto one tray. In the same bowl, toss the beetroot with some more olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto the other tray. (Keeping them separate will prevent the beetroot from staining the other vegetables).
Place in the oven and bake for 40-50mins or until golden and crunchy on the edges.
Meanwhile, for the wasabi mayo, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and use a whisk to thoroughly combine. Leave in the fridge until ready to serve.
To cook the fish, heat some coconut oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, over medium high heat. Place the crushed cornflakes in a bowl. Coat each piece of fish in the cornflakes, pressing into the fish firmly to coat.
Fry the fish pieces, about 2mins per side, until golden and crunchy. Drain on paper towel.
Serve the fish with a sprinkle of salt, the veggie chips, lemon wedges and wasabi mayo.
Enjoy!

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Oysters with Pickled Cucumber (and a note on how to make a ‘Japanese Slipper’)

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I understand the appeal of oysters, there is something wild and exciting about eating a creature like this, freshly shucked and still alive, smelling of the ocean as you tip it up to your lips…..

and then…
salty snot.

I’m sorry. I really am. I feel terrible that I can’t fully appreciate them yet. I’m getting there though. A friend recently introduced me to what she called the “Japanese Slipper”, consisting of soy, wasabi, pickled ginger and lime. I loved the flavour at first but it’s that creaminess towards the end that i’m still getting used too. Apparently this is the most sought after part!
So, after having the Japanese Slipper, and not totally hating it, I also tried a bit of a pickled cucumber dressing as well. The dressing is delicious and according to my guests, the oysters were as well.
After all, I love the ocean and appreciate everything that comes from it. I’m sure I will love oysters one day. I will never stop trying that’s for sure!
I haven’t included a recipe here for the Japanese Slipper oysters, but they are really easy, just mix some soy sauce and wasabi together, pour about a teaspoon on each oyster, top with some pickled ginger and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Note; they also pair nicely with an icy cold glass of Frangelico and Lime.

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Recipe

Makes 12

Ingredients

12 freshly shucked oysters
130g cucumber, de-seeded, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
1/4 spanish onion, very finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbs coconut vinegar
1 tbs caster sugar
Pinch dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper

Method

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the oysters. Stir well and leave to pickle in the fridge for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, place about a tbs of pickled cucumber dressing on each oyster. Serve with extra lime wedges, if desired.

Steamed Artichokes with Mustard Dipping Sauce

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I’ve  always wanted to try this beautiful looking dish but never have due to it seeming much too difficult and fiddly. Well, guess what! It’s so easy and way more delicious and exciting than I had anticipated! It’s a lovely way to get the party started as you will undoubtedly have to explain to your guests that these beautiful flower like vegetables are actually edible, and then how to go about it. It’s hard to explain, and doesn’t sound great when you do, but once you try it with your own mouth you will see why it’s been a popular way to eat artichoke for centuries. I have even seen it described as the lobster of the vegetable world.  The sweet and tangy mustard dipping sauce works perfectly with the creamy artichoke meat and made even better with a crisp, cold glass of white wine in the other hand. Perfect entertaining food as it’s entertaining in itself, delicious, and won’t fill up any tummys too much before anything else you may have in store.

So, to explain how to eat this funny looking vegetable. Once you have steamed it and allowed it to cool a little (see recipe), simply pull away a ‘leaf’ from the artichoke, dip the meaty end in the sauce and then place in your mouth while still holding the end of the ‘leaf’. Then use your teeth to gently scrape away the meat as you pull the ‘leaf’ back out of your mouth. Once you get to the middle of the artichoke you will see a sort of hairy section, this is inedible, discard it. Under this though is the artichoke heart, depending on the age of your artichoke, it may be firm and able to be lifted out and chopped into pieces to eat, or, if it’s an older artichoke, it will be soft and you will need a spoon to scoop it out. It’s delicious!

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Recipe

Serves 4 as a snack

Ingredients

2 artichokes

1/8 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/8 cup honey

2 tbs grain mustard

salt and pepper

Method

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, with a steam basket and lid on top.

Trim the stalk from the artichokes, as well as any dark and dry leaves around the base. Cut off the first 2cm from the top of the artichoke as well.

Once the water is boiling, place the artichokes in the steam basket and steam, lid on, for about 45mins to an hour, or until a ‘leaf’ is able to be easily pulled away.

Remove from the steamer and allow to cool. The artichokes can be eaten warm or at room temperature.

For the dipping sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine. Place in a small bowl to serve alongside the artichokes. Serve with a large empty bowl for the scraps. Enjoy!

 

Easy Christmas Lunch. Spiced Rum and Marmalade Glazed Ham, Citrus and Fennel Salad and Crispy Sweet Potato Bake

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Here are a couple of easy recipes for Christmas Day if you don’t feel like slaving over a hot stove but still want to impress. Everything is really easy, and really tasty; each dish complements the other and when it’s all put out on the table, looks festive and exciting. I made these dishes for a last minute Christmas dinner with a bunch of our friends here in Newcastle before we head back to Darwin; to a very quiet Christmas day, consisting of just the two of us, three dogs, twelve chickens and hopefully a yummy seafood lunch.

You could serve these dishes as part of a bigger feast (we also had two roast chickens, a greek spinach pie, and multiple salads, all brought by our beautiful friends), but it is also nice just to have a few key dishes and really appreciate them. I find that sometimes at Christmas there is just so much to choose from that the flavours in each dish get hidden by one another; or maybe just by a big slosh of gravy.

I hope you’re all excited for Christmas and have some time off work to enjoy with your friends and family. Happy cooking!

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Recipe

Spiced Rum and Marmalade Glazed Ham

Serves 6

Ingredients

5kg smoked ham leg

2/3 cup spiced rum

1 cup honey

1/3 cup molasses

3/4 cup marmalade

1 tbs fresh ginger, grated

handful of cloves

pepper

Grain mustard and fresh white bread, to serve

Method

Combine all ingredients apart from the ham, mustard and bread in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring to the simmer and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer for about 20mins or until thickened (be careful as it may foam up). Remove from heat to cool slightly. Strain through a sieve, reserving both the strained part and the unstrained.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line a large baking dish with baking paper.

To prepare the ham, cut through the skin around the bone in a zigzag pattern. Use your fingers to separate the skin from the fatty layer underneath (you need this fatty layer to hold the glaze so try not to remove it).

In a criss-cross pattern, score the fat in lines about 2cm apart. Press a clove into each cross section. (traditionally they are pressed into the centre of each square but I think more flavour gets into the ham like this).

Brush the ham with some of the strained glaze and place in the oven. Cook for about an hour, brushing with the glaze every 10mins.

Remove from the oven and cool for 15mins or so before carving. Serve warm or cool. Combine any leftover glaze with the chunky parts left from when it was strained; serve this alongside, as well as the mustard and bread.

Citrus and Fennel Salad

Ingredients

2 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

6 baby radishes, thinly sliced

1/2 a spanish onion, thinly sliced

3 oranges, peeled and sliced (a mixture of regular and blood is good, if you can get them)

1 red grapefruit, peeled and sliced

A few big handfuls of mixed mescaline leaves

A handful of mint leaves, torn

Seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate

Olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper for dressing

Method

Combine the fennel, lemon juice and pinch of salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Add the radishes and red onion and lightly toss, but don’t mix too much or the colour will leach out of the radishes.

In a large shallow bowl, arrange the mescaline leaves and most of the mint. Top with half of the fennel mixture, then half of the orange and grapefruit, then the rest of the fennel mixture and rest of the orange and grapefruit. Top with the pomegranate seeds and the rest of the mint. Very lightly drizzle with the olive oil and the red wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper.

Crispy Sweet Potato Bake

Ingredients

1-2 large white (purple skinned) sweet potato

6 red rascal potatoes

4 cloves garlic

Handful of fresh herbs, such as oregano, basil, parsley or sage

2 tbs dried mixed herbs

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tbs butter, melted

salt and pepper

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Thinly slice the sweet potato, potatoes and the garlic on a mandolin. (or just thinly slice by hand if you don’t have one, but take your time as the slices need to be very thin).

In a large bowl combine the sliced sweet potato, potatoes and garlic with the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to mix, making sure everything is well coated.

Use your oily hands to grease a baking dish. Arrange the slices of potato in a vertical position, like books on a shelf, filling the gaps with smaller slices and arranging so that the tray is evenly filled.

Sprinkle with a little extra salt and pepper and bake for about 45-60mins or until tops are brown and crispy and underneath is tender.

Enjoy!