Wednesday, 9 July 2014


Guava Cotten-soft Cheesecake with Jaboticaba gelee, served with a Tamarillo, red wine & honey sauce, Passionfruit tuile, Lemon balm and Edible violet pansy.

                      This dessert uses four fruits from the south american region that we have been harvesting since the start of last month. We have a guava cheesecake, a jaboticaba gelee, a tamarillo sauce and a passionfruit tuile. For a few months now I've been collecting the ripened fruit from these four varieties and freezing the pulp, as the fruit ripens at various times, sometimes it may mean picking the odd berry here and there to beat the birds and have enough at the end of season to use them for something, only while our fruit trees are still in their early years and not bearing much fruit. This dish I guess is one of those end of season uses I was talking about, this is the rewards of our south american fruit harvests. The odd passionfruit is still falling from their vine and people have ice on their car windows in the morning, I don't understand. The peach and fig tree have gone into winer dormancy but I've got a rogue bitter melon cucumber plant flowering in the veggie patch. My coffee plants are holding the worst season of cherries by yield in the 6 years they been fruiting and the local strawberry farmers here are bracing themselves for a record high season, so try and plan for that.                                                          
                     Below is a scaled recipe and detailed method for each prep, you can have fun with this one and change up the fruits, like have a strawberry cheesecake with a sour cherry gelee or something. This is a cotten-soft cheesecake meaning the texture is soft and melts in your mouth. The recipe uses a combination of the traditional cheesecake with the fluffy texture of the sponge chiffon cake, with the flavour coming from added fruit puree.                                                                                                          
COTTEN-SOFT GUAVA CHEESECAKE- To make this cake I first preheated a 160C oven and greased and lined a 6" square and 1" high cake tin. I then halved and scooped out the pulp of 6 guavas into a blender and blended to a puree, making 1 cup of strained puree. Over a saucepan of gently simmer water I placed a heat proof bowl, adding to the bowl 125g of chopped cream cheese, 25g of chopped butter and 50ml of milk. I then mixed with a whisk until melted and smooth, removing the bowl from the heat and allowing to cool. I then added 35g of plain flour, 20g of cornflour, 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice, 3 egg yolks and a pinch of salt, stirring to incorporate. Using an electric beater, in a separate bowl I whipped 3 egg whites and a 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar until foamy, continuing to whip I added 70g of caster sugar in 3 batches to form a soft peak stage. I then folded the guava puree through the cream cheese mixture and then folded in the egg whites, this was then poured into the lined tin and baked for 40 minutes. The oven was then switched off and the cheesecake was left to cool completely in the oven before being removed from the tin and sliced into portion sizes.                                                                                                        
JABOTICABA GELEE- To make the gelee which is the purplish jelly film you see on top of the cheesecake, I washed and deseeded 12-14 small jaboticaba, placing them into a small saucepan with enough water to cover ( about 1 1/2 cups ) and a 1/4 cup of caster sugar. This was brought to a simmer for about 20 minutes, reducing the liquid to 1 cup of purplish coloured thin syrup. The syrup was then strained and the fruit pulp and skins discarded, the liquid was returned to the the saucepan and brought back to a gentle simmer. I then added 1 tsp of agar agar to the syrup, while whisking to dissolve the agar agar. This was then removed from the stove and poured out over a flat oven tray and allowed to set on the bench top. When the gelee had cooled and set I cut out appropriate sized rectangles to fit on top of the cheesecake portions.                                                                                                                              
TAMARILLO, RED WINE & HONEY SAUCE- This sauce actually came from the poaching liquids in the baked tamarillo dish and was reserved to eat with custard or ice cream or something. The sauce was made by simply baking tamarillo fruit in 1 cup of red wine, star anise and 2tbsp of honey. The remaining poaching liquid was further reduced and reserved for later preparations.                                      
PASSIONFRUIT TUILE- To make the tuile I gently heated 50g of glucose in a saucepan on low, once the glucose was running freely I added 60g of passionfruit puree without seeds and mixed the two together to form a syrup. This was then removed from the heat and poured into a mixing bowl, to which I added 75g of icing sugar and 60g of flour, mixing together to form a stiff batter. I then added 30g of melted butter and mixed through completely, I then placed the mix in the fridge to firm up a little. To make the tuile shape I spread the tuile mixture 1mm thick, between two strips of masking tape 5mm apart on a flat baking tray. Once I was happy the mixture was spread evenly and thinly from end to end, I removed the strips of tape to reveal a perfect straight 20cm long, 5mm wide and 1 mm high strip of uncooked tuile batter. This was then baked in a 190C oven for about 4-5 minutes until the edges began to colour and working very quickly and carefully while the baked tuile is still warm I was able to manipulate it around a pole to form a spiral, within twenty seconds of being out of the oven the tuile is crisp and vulnerable to humidity and moisture.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014


 Baby Octopus heads cooked in a mixture of mirepoix & squid ink and marinated in olive brine served with Extra Virgin  cold-pressed Olive oil, Red chilli paste and micro Oregano leaves.  

                 This Mediterranean inspired hors d'oeuvre was a clever use of a by-product to another dish. So if you haven't guessed it by now, you are looking at baby octopus heads that look like olives and not black olives stuffed with octopus. I was experimenting with a Japanese dish that only required the tentacles of the octopuses and was left with the severed heads, when I remembered I had archived a recipe I'd seen for olive brined octopus heads about 4 or 5 years ago. These brined heads are absolutely divine for someone that enjoys seafood and mediterranean flavours. If you like marinated octopus are baby octopus grilled on the barbecue then this is a must try as it takes the ordinary marinated octopus for a ride, its fantastic with crusty bread rubbed with a clove of garlic or just on their own with the accompaniments of a good olive oil, some chilli paste and fresh oregano. I think next time that I purchase baby octopus I will be looking for a recipe to make something with the tentacles which will become the by-product of the heads used for this dish. The recipe below has been scaled for about 12-15 octopus heads and could quite possible do enough for 30-35 heads.
                 To make the olive brined black octopus heads was a journey of anticipation the whole time, beginning with placing the washed severed octopus heads into a small saucepan together with mirepoix sauteed in butter which are aromatics, a combination of diced celery (1 stick), carrot (1 small) and onion (1 small) . I also added 1 bay leaf, sprigs of fresh thyme, a piece of orange peel zest, salt, pepper, enough water to cover the heads, which for me was 1 metric cup and 1 tbsp of squid ink. This was simmered gently on a low heat for an hour covered. While this was happening my mouth was salivating from the smell in the air and after an hour I was ready to just make pasta and run the octopus and its sauce through the pasta and just eat them then and their. I strained the contents of the saucepan, discarding the solids except for reserving the now shrunken octopus heads and returning the strained liquid back to the stove and reduced the liquid down to a syrupy consistency of about 2-3 tablespoons in quantity. I returned the heads back to the saucepan of reduced liquid to coat them in the sauce, this was then allowed to cool completely. Then in a sterilised jar with fitting lid a scraped the heads and the contents of the saucepan and poured in enough olive brine from brined olives to cover the heads, about 1/2 a cup. I then screwed the lid of the jar on tight before shaking the contents and placing in the fridge to marinate for 24 hours, shaking every 6-8 hours to mix the squid ink which tends to sink to the bottom. A day latter the heads had blackened a bit, but to get the black shiny look I coated the heads in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and warmed squid ink just before serving. The oregano was from the garden and is a white greek variety, the chilli paste is just that red chillies pureed to a paste.

Monday, 7 July 2014


Red wine & Honey baked Tamarillo served with Popcorn infused creamed rice and ground Native ginger seed.

                      So many people are reaping the rewards of their citrus harvests around this time, everyone except me. As there is something about the citrus tree and me and the countless times I've tried to grow any of the citrus varieties. The pest infestation, root rot, you name it I've experienced it, the frustrating thing is people have trees neglected dropping fruit in the corners of their backyards. So over the years of attempts now I've found the fruit trees from South America have been the best performers in our backyard that is located in a sub-tropical region but quite shaded. We now have several species growing and some having just finished their fruiting seasons and some that give off rogue fruits at any time of the year. We have tamarillo, guava, cherry guava, chilean guava, jaboticaba, brazilian cherry, vanilla vines, yam bean plants, soursop, custard apple, feijoa, pepino, abiu, passionfruit and coffee. Although coffee is not native to the region it is widely grown there for quite some time now. Tamarillo grow really well here and are a fast growing tree that can bear fruit at a year and a half old and mature on to become prolific bearers. This is a simple little dessert pairing the tang of the tamarillo with a creamed rice flavoured with butter popcorn. The seasoning used on top of the creamed rice is ground native ginger seeds imparting  flavours of pepper and ginger to add a little zing. The native ginger seed once chewed by our indigenous people and spat out along the paths to mark the trails that lead to food sources. The taste similar to the spice Grains of paradise of which also comes from the berry of another ginger plant.                                                                                                                          
                      To make the creamed rice I placed 2 cups of milk, 2 cups of prepared popcorn and 2 tbsp of melted butter in a saucepan and brought to the simmer before being removed and allowed to steep for 20 minutes or so. This was the strained and the popcorn infused milk was set aside. In a saucepan a 1/2 cup of rice and a 1/2 cup of water was brought to the boil. To this I gradually added the popcorn milk with another 2 cups of plain milk and a 1/4 cup of sugar, this was reduced to a simmer for around 30- 35 minutes until thick and creamy. For the baked tamarillo I simply preheated the oven to 160C, wit a sharp knife I made a small cross in the skin of the pointed end of the tamarillo. The fruit was then left to soak in boiling water for 2-3 minutes before being refreshed under cold water. I then cut the fruit in quarters starting from the pointed end cutting three quarters of the way through to the stem end. I then peeled back the skin of each section a placed the fruit in an oven proof dish with 1 cup of red wine, star anise and 2 tbsp of honey, covering loosely and baking in the oven for 15 minutes. I then removed the cover, basting the tamarillo 2-3 times while baking the fruit for a further 10 minutes uncovered until soft and tender but still holding structure. This was then cooled before being served with creamed rice.

Sunday, 6 July 2014


Chestnut & Maple Creme brulee, Spiced Pumpkin tuile, Callebaut Chocolate decor and Roasted chestnuts.

                    When I think of chestnuts, for me its very much a winter thing. With fond memories of the big chestnut trees in Melbourne and the aroma of roasting chestnuts from the street vendors, wafting through the main streets and side alleys of the inner city hub or the sunday markets. Its a very comforting aroma that instantly makes you feel warm inside, despite the weather. For me the aroma from roasting chestnuts is such an association trigger for the city streets of Melbourne, as popcorn is for the movies. When I moved up to Queensland, where the sub-tropical climate and low chill in winter doesn't allow chestnuts to grow I noticed that the nut of choice for street vendors was the macadamia nut. The macadamia nut was virtually unaffordable for people of Melbourne and the thought of it being sold by street vendors, is that similar to Queenslanders and chestnuts, it just doesn't happen. So when I saw these chestnuts on the shelf I just had to purchase them for the nostalgia. This is a very simple recipe and you could be sitting down to eat your rewards in just over an hour, so below I've added A scaled recipe and detailed method for those that would fancy trying the recipe. Both the chestnuts and the maple syrup give the custard a real lift to an otherwise plain vanilla flavour.                                      
                    Into a blender I added 75g of chestnuts peeled and chopped together with 120g of milk, 15g vanilla extract, 15g of maple syrup an a pinch of salt. This was blended to a puree and set aside. In a bowl I whisked together 105g of egg yolks and 105g of caster sugar vigorously but without aerating the mix. To this I added 270g of heavy cream and the puree, these were mixed to incorporate and then poured into ramekins, this recipe makes 6 serves. I then placed the ramekins on a tray filled with water and baked them at 160 degree C. for about 55 minutes or until the brulee no longer trembles when gently shaken. The brulee's were then removed from the water bath and in a small saucepan I melted some sugar until syrupy and amber in colour. This was poured thinly over each creme brulee and allowed to set, giving the custard a thin caramel crust as apposed to the traditional technique to brulee sugar with a blow torch.                                                                                                                            
                    To accompany the dessert I made a spiced pumpkin tuile by melting 50g of glucose in a small saucepan over a low heat. To this I added 60g of pumpkin puree and this was then poured into a mixing bowl with 75g of icing sugar, 60g of flour, 1tsp of mixed spice. This was mixed to form a stiff batter and spread organically over a lined baking tray, these were then baked for 5-6 minutes in a 190 degree oven until the edges of the tuile's start to brown. While they were still warm I was able to shape them and then allow them to cool. To make the callebaut decors I simply melted the good quality Belgium couverture chocolate in a bowl in the microwave in 30 second stints, checking each time. This was then poured into a decorative mould and placed in the fridge to set before being sliced into decors. Below I've shown a few variations of plating up, using different shaped ramekins, tuile's and decors.